Mother Mother at The Phoenix Concert Theatre

Almost two months into the ‘Dance and Cry’ North American tour, Mother Mother landed in Toronto with two sold out shows at The Phoenix Concert Theatre. Fans of all ages packed into the venue in anticipation of the band’s return after releasing their latest album of the same name in the fall.

Naturally, the set began with the first two tracks from Dance and Cry, setting the mood right off the bat. I Must Cry Out Loud and Dance and Cry welcomed the crowd to do just that, dance and cry. We aren’t strangers to the emotive lyricism that Mother Mother delivers, and frontman Ryan Guldemond encourages you to go through the motions with them on stage.

It is clear that Mother Mother are veterans on stage. After over 10 years of making music and touring together, they have perfected both their image and their production. As soon as they begin to play, it’s hard to avoid their energy on stage. As Ryan stands guard in the middle of the stage, his sister Molly Guldemond and bandmate Jasmin Parkin are the driving forces on keys stage right and left that create an amazing vocal dynamic. With Mother Mother, everything is done with intent, yet nothing seems rigid and unnatural. The flow of movement and sound draws you to the stage like a magnet. Both the lighting and sound was top-notch, and as Ryan said, “we are just a small slice of the pie”, giving a nod to their amazing crew, sound, and stage techs that make it happen night after night.

After setting the tone of the show with two new tracks, they continued with what seemed like hit after hit after hit, bringing back favourites from the albums O My HeartThe Sticks, and Very Good Bad Thing. Ryan’s anthemic guitar playing had everyone singing and stomping along. He takes on a unique position in music where he is both the lead guitarist and the lead singer, a very difficult feat for many musicians. As a matter of fact, he plays the only guitar on stage, and doesn’t miss a beat while doing it.

What may have been the most memorable part of the show sonically, was how they evolved their live show from their recordings. As they are so evidently well-rehearsed, confident, and incredible at what they do, this gives them the flexibility to explore different aspects of sound that you don’t hear on the recorded tracks. Ryan will take off on an extended guitar solo on a bridge, or they’ll play with the tempo of a song to bring in new elements. For someone who attends many concerts, this is a very welcomed aspect of a live show that is often missed.

Towards the end of the set, they brought openers Said the Whale back to the stage to perform a group rendition of So Down, a personal favourite of mine from Dance and Cry. As they all shared microphones, you could tell that this was much more than just playing music for them. They’ve created a family on the road.

The night ended on a high note with The Stand, as fans belted out the quirky lyrics as loud they could. Good vibes filled the room, and the appreciation was reciprocated from the band as they took the time to thank their fans for supporting Canadian music.


Words and photos by Morgan Hotston