To say that Razorlight's musical skills are razor sharp would either be a very lame pun or an absolute understatement. In this case, though, both are completely true. The four Londoners ripped it up - literally, there was plaster from the ceiling falling on my head during their set - at Lee's Palace in front of a packed house. Not too shabby for their first North American outing.
Opening with "Don't Go Back To Dalston" - their plea/paean to former Libertines frontman and notorious junkie Pete Doherty - Razorlight launched a live set to appease the newfound Canadian fans and to make the curious into converts. Given that they only have one album to cull material from, there was more than enough to keep the listeners of Up All Night happy, including the two singles "Golden Touch" and "Rip It Up" along with other album faves like "Leave Me Alone" and "Up All Night." The boys were so tightly locked that not a single move seemed out of place, even when spastic frontman Johnny Borrell went off on rambling fits or severely abused his guitar and microphone stand. At one point, he was almost climbing the rafters and scaling the walls like a deranged, sweaty monkey. His bandmates weren't slouches with the onstage energy, either - there was plenty of bouncing and guitar-slamming to be watched, with bassist Carl Dalemo even crashing into the drum kit at the end. Thankfully, the foursome wasn't too tired to come out for an encore at the end, starting with Borrell's solo rendition of the lovely "Fall, Fall, Fall" and then a stomping, howling version of "To The Sea."
And for someone so often portrayed in NME as an arrogant jerk, Johnny Borrell was courteous and pleasant with the crowd, thanking the room numerous times and looking genuinely surprised that they'd managed to pull in such a draw. Considering that Razorlight hasn't gotten a hell of a lot of airplay on TV or radio here in the Great White North, the full Lee's actually was a pretty great accomplishment for the blondes from Britain. If this keeps up, Razorlight may finally be able to step away from all those comparisons to the UK's other current garage-rock darlings, the now-defunct Libertines.
Props also to the two openers, The Golden Dogs (whom I unfortunately missed all but two songs of, though it was nice to see some of Toronto's indie rock pride represented) and The Features, who came damn close to stealing the entire show with their maniac drumming and cute Tennessee charm. Ace performances done by all.
Writer: Caitlin Hotchkiss