The Besnard Lakes Live Review

March 31, The Fleece | Photo: Tim Ellis

Canadian husband and wife Jase Lasek and Olga Goreas have been making music together as The Besnard Lakes since 2003. With five critically lauded albums to their name, the band have been constantly touring and have played several Bristol gigs to date. Tonight marks the band’s return to the city’s iconic Fleece venue for the first night of a UK tour to promote their latest album A Coliseum Complex Museum.

The five piece touring band Kick off with the usual set opener ‘Like the Ocean, Like the Innocent’ which sets things up nicely for a night of medium paced psychedelia. The guitars are so loud that the vocals are not entirely audible apart from on the few slower moments such as ‘The Spectre’ where Lasek and Goreas’ harmonising is reminiscent of Low’s Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker singing along to the Beach Boys. Most of the band’s set is filled with the loud swirling shoegazey guitars familiar to the Besnard Lakes’ oeuvre, let loose by both Lasek and guitarist Robbie MacArthur.

With this being the first night of the tour and with much new material to play, the band are more animated than usual. There are plenty of smiles all round and it is clear that the five people on stage are having a fun time. you may expect to find a middle-aged band five albums into their career simply going through the motions, the Besnard Lakes, however appear to be having the time of their lives.

The surprise highlight is a shimmery twelve-string rendition of ‘People of the Sticks’ from 2012’s underrated Until in Excess, Imperceptible UFO LP, which then leads on to a stunning ‘Albatross’ from their most successful album, the Polaris prize shortlisted The Besnard Lakes are the Roaring Night. It is not just the old songs that are highlights as these are followed by a rhythmic rendition of newbie ‘Tungsten 4: The Refugee’ which sounds quite different from the album version which makes a refreshing change from most of the other songs which tend not to differ much from their recordings. Then it’s a trip back to the debut with ‘And You Lied To Me’ which closes the set with style.

It is a good setlist which draws from all over the band’s output so far. A planned three song encore is thankfully extended to a four song encore in order to grant a fans request. The total time they play for is almost 2 hours so there is certainly no need to feel short-changed. The last time the Besnard Lakes played Bristol, at the Exchange the band were decent but felt a bit tired playing the same old stuff. Tonight however feels as if the band have been revitalised and are doing what they love.

Check out ‘The Plain Moon’ right here: