By Melissa Welsh
What is it about Pete Yorn? Maybe it’s the slightly disheveled shaggy hair, or the effortless way he croons into the microphone through a perma-grin that has the tongues of all pop/folk/indie-rock music fans wagging. Or maybe it’s because, even given his decade-long success, he still looks like he’s performing for friends in his living room.
Head bobbing, with a leather boot-clad foot tapping the beat, Yorn took the stage at Vancouver’s Commodore Ballroom Saturday March, 2. The show marked the second performance on his current 2011 tour, spanning 30 cities across North America.
The singer/song-writer/guitarist and part-time heartthrob delivered a feel-good show to a Vancouverite variety, with the listening collective all copying the New Jersey-native’s understated dance hustle while he sang songs like “Precious Stone” and “Velcro Shoes” from his new self-entitled album Pete Yorn. The crowd even managed a slight hop during the beginning of the singer’s upbeat set list.
Yet it wasn’t until a very loyal fan belted out a “I fucking love this guy”, with the inevitable concert cannabis cloud milling overhead, that the crowd relaxed and were visibly excited to see the band on stage.
Wearing rock-star red – and lets hope 70′s-inspired – corduroy pants, with electric guitar in hand, Yorn covered songs from last albums Musicforthemorningafter and Live from New Jersey in addition to his newest record.
With Frank Black of Pixies fame playing the role of record producer for the band, the concert delivered a stripped down sound reminiscent of a ’90s garage band, featuring many a guitar-riff by guitarists Mark Noseworthy and a powerful combination of beats and bass with Scott Seiver on drums and Zak Shaffer on the bass guitar.
But Vancouver fans still were able to get their folk fix with Yorn picking up the harmonica for songs like “Committed”, making the transition to a slower tempo heading into the mid part of the show with a sometimes almost blues-inspired bass line.
The understated performance of the singer paralleled the evolution of Yorn’s 10-year journey in the music industry, with a sound that incorporated all the different styles he picked up along the way.
And unlike other musicians who sometimes wait until the crowd’s hands are practically numb from clapping the encore praise, Yorn graced the audience only a short reprieve with a fan-favorite cover of Neil Young’s “Keep on Rocking in the Free World”, during which Canada’s own guitarist Noseworthy finally cracked a smile.
Missing from the list, music from Yorn’s 2009 album Break Up, minus Miss Scarlett Johansson. But for some reason, something tells me the ladies in the crowd didn’t mind being without one less attractive single female. An audible sign lingering overtop an instrumental interlude when Yorn leaned down to whisper something in the ear of a front-stage clinger fan.
It just goes to show that even with his 36 years, Yorn is still the youthful boy next door, stringing hearts along with his guitar.