SHOW REVIEW: Marlon Williams

By Andrea Macanovic

Following the recent release of his sophomore album, Make Way for Love, on March 6th, New Zealand native Marlon Williams took the stage at the Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto. What started out as a cozy evening with indie-folk band Tiny Ruins taking the stage gradually culminated into a night full of raw energy with Williams at the helm.

IMG_0977-8With the rest of her band back in New Zealand, Hollie Fullbrook of Tiny Ruins opened the show. Her distinctively hazy voice echoed as it spread into the corners of the venue. Alone with her guitar, she was able to drown out the hustle and bustle coming from the bar and captivate the audience.  She started her set with “Tread Softly” from her EP with Hamish Kilgour called Hurtling Through, followed by “Me at the Museum, You in the Wintergardens” from their 2014 album Brightly Painted One; a song inspired by a visit to a museum near her home back in New Zealand where she wanted to work. After a few more songs, Fullbrook drew her set to a close with a the title track from their forthcoming album “Olympic Girls”, and invited the audience to squeeze closer together to the stage in preparation for the arrival of Williams.

Despite the relatively tame crowd, Tiny Ruins performed a beautiful set and left me as a new fan. The room, now teeming with excitement, was filled with loud chatter as everyone filtered up to the front. After some shuffling around and great intermission music featuring tracks like Dionne Warwick’s “Walk On By”, Williams finally took the stage to a cheering crowd.

In the spotlight, alone with his guitar, he began the show with “Down in the Garden”. As Williams thanked and greeted the crowd with smiles and laughter, his backing band, The Yarra Benders, joined him on stage and they proceeded with “Come To Me”, the first track off his new album. His voice, full and rich, filled the room. The next song, met with a few cheers of excitement, was from his self-titled debut album and a cover of Canadian musician Bob Carpenter, “Silent Passage”. Williams playfully went on to joke “we’re starting with the heavy shit” as he prepared to sing “Beautiful Dress” followed by “I Didn’t Make a Plan” and “I’m Lost Without You”, all songs of love and heartbreak, the running theme of his latest LP. He described his next song, “Can I Call You,” as his version of a Greek tragedy put into song, saying “it’s dark, awful and I love it”. The show then picked up with hits like “What’s Chasing You”, and a cover of Yoko Ono’s “Nobody Sees Me Like You Do”. He continued with “Dark Child”, and had the crowd roaring with “Party Boy”, and – a song I was eagerly awaiting the whole evening – “Vampire Again”. Winding down the night, Williams sang “Nobody Gets What They Want Anymore”, a beautiful song which featured Aldous Harding in the studio recording; it was the end of their relationship that served as the catalyst for his new album, and what makes her presence in the song that much more powerful. As Harding was not on tour with Williams, his backing band filled her shoes and gave an equally beautiful performance. He ended the set with the title track “Make Way For Love”; his voice, smooth like melted butter, coupled with a song reminiscent of an old 1950s classic, left us all swaying side by side in the crowd. To his surprise, when he set down his guitar and walked off stage, the crowd kept on cheering, waiting, for an encore. Williams came back smiling saying “I really wasn’t expecting this, thank you”, and proceeded with three more songs. Sitting at the keyboard accompanied by a violin he began with “Love Is A Terrible Thing” and followed with the more upbeat cover of John Lennon’s “Jealous Guy”. For his final song, he performed an absolutely fantastic cover of none other than Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ “Portrait of a Man”. Although no one can do the song justice quite like Hawkins, Williams certainly delivered. The crowd was loving every minute of it.

Both Williams and Fullbrook stayed after the show by the merch table to greet and chat with fans. Ultimately, Marlon Williams came to Toronto and played a great show for fans new and old alike. Featuring songs from both his debut album and Make Way for Love, he had audience members singing and cheering together the whole night through.

Following the recent release of his sophomore album, Make Way for Love, on March 6th, New Zealand native Marlon Williams took the stage at the Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto. What started out as a cozy evening with indie-folk band Tiny Ruins taking the stage gradually culminated into a night full of raw energy with Williams at the helm.

With the rest of her band back in New Zealand, Hollie Fullbrook of Tiny Ruins opened the show. Her distinctively hazy voice echoed as it spread into the corners of the venue. Alone with her guitar, she was able to drown out the hustle and bustle coming from the bar and captivate the audience.  She started her set with “Tread Softly” from her EP with Hamish Kilgour called Hurtling Through, followed by “Me at the Museum, You in the Wintergardens” from their 2014 album Brightly Painted One; a song inspired by a visit to a museum near her home back in New Zealand where she wanted to work. After a few more songs, Fullbrook drew her set to a close with a the title track from their forthcoming album “Olympic Girls”, and invited the audience to squeeze closer together to the stage in preparation for the arrival of Williams.

Despite the relatively tame crowd, Tiny Ruins performed a beautiful set and left me as a new fan. The room, now teeming with excitement, was filled with loud chatter as everyone filtered up to the front. After some shuffling around and great intermission music featuring tracks like Dionne Warwick’s “Walk On By”, Williams finally took the stage to a cheering crowd.

In the spotlight, alone with his guitar, he began the show with “Down in the Garden”. As Williams thanked and greeted the crowd with smiles and laughter, his backing band, The Yarra Benders, joined him on stage and they proceeded with “Come To Me”, the first track off his new album. His voice, full and rich, filled the room. The next song, met with a few cheers of excitement, was from his self-titled debut album and a cover of Canadian musician Bob Carpenter, “Silent Passage”. Williams playfully went on to joke “we’re starting with the heavy shit” as he prepared to sing “Beautiful Dress” followed by “I Didn’t Make a Plan” and “I’m Lost Without You”, all songs of love and heartbreak, the running theme of his latest LP. He described his next song, “Can I Call You,” as his version of a Greek tragedy put into song, saying “it’s dark, awful and I love it”. The show then picked up with hits like “What’s Chasing You”, and a cover of Yoko Ono’s “Nobody Sees Me Like You Do”. He continued with “Dark Child”, and had the crowd roaring with “Party Boy”, and – a song I was eagerly awaiting the whole evening – “Vampire Again”. Winding down the night, Williams sang “Nobody Gets What They Want Anymore”, a beautiful song which featured Aldous Harding in the studio recording; it was the end of their relationship that served as the catalyst for his new album, and what makes her presence in the song that much more powerful. As Harding was not on tour with Williams, his backing band filled her shoes and gave an equally beautiful performance. He ended the set with the title track “Make Way For Love”; his voice, smooth like melted butter, coupled with a song reminiscent of an old 1950s classic, left us all swaying side by side in the crowd. To his surprise, when he set down his guitar and walked off stage, the crowd kept on cheering, waiting, for an encore. Williams came back smiling saying “I really wasn’t expecting this, thank you”, and proceeded with three more songs. Sitting at the keyboard accompanied by a violin he began with “Love Is A Terrible Thing” and followed with the more upbeat cover of John Lennon’s “Jealous Guy”. For his final song, he performed an absolutely fantastic cover of none other than Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ “Portrait of a Man”. Although no one can do the song justice quite like Hawkins, Williams certainly delivered. The crowd was loving every minute of it.

Both Williams and Fullbrook stayed after the show by the merch table to greet and chat with fans. Ultimately, Marlon Williams came to Toronto and played a great show for fans new and old alike. Featuring songs from both his debut album and Make Way for Love, he had audience members singing and cheering together the whole night through.

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