Live Show Review: Saor — July 22nd, 2019
When Saor initially announced their short, North American trek this summer, I didn't figure I would be able to attend any of the shows in my vicinity. I'd actually forgotten about the tour, and was only prompted by a Falls Of Rauros posting where they noted they would be performing at the later dates. I'd already missed a chance to see Falls Of Rauros in December, 2017, so I had 2 really strong reasons to not miss this show.I was blessed with a bit of good luck and was able to afford the jaunt to Montreal to catch the very last date of the tour.
My characteristically bad luck was mostly held at bay. I arrived to the venue extremely early — I thought the show started at 7:00pm and I walked faster than expected, arriving a little after 6:00pm — and ended up wandering in on Saor doing their soundcheck. The venue was on the second level of a very small bar. I got a bit lost, as the building also housed an MMA gym, and at least one completely vacant, stripped-down level. The elevator featured a crumbling floor and no way to know what level it was currently on; I've never been to a venue where the stage was so awkwardly split from the actual bar. I just wandered around, trying each floor, until I found the show room. I loitered around for about 20 minutes, and left when I realised how ridiculously early I was.
The show didn't have any physical tickets, and I bought mine through a website which provided nothing more than a PayPal transaction record. It ended up being a very good thing that I was so early, I was the fifth person to get in but my name wasn't on the list. I had proof of payment, but they just let me in rather than hold up the line that kept growing behind me. The show was sold out, but thankfully everything worked out. I'm so accustomed to fuckery on my concert-going adventures that nothing seems to faze me anymore. Still, I hope to never go to a show that doesn't issue some sort of ticket — even if it's just a digital QR code in a PDF file — because I was still a bit nervous taking a train and renting a hotel to see a show and just hope my name was on a list. (Which it wasn't!)
The show times were never posted, but the first band ended up taking the stage at aproximately 7:45pm. Falls Of Rauros, touring in support of their just recently released fifth studio album, Patterns In Mythology, put on a brief but powerful set. They played a pair of songs from the new album, "Weapons Of Refusal" and what I think was "Last Empty Tradition." The sound at this venue, for all its aesthetic shortcomings, was incredible; Falls Of Rauros sounded great, ripping through their unique mix of blackened, melodic metal and bluesy-folk rock for about 30 minutes.
The band only had time for 3 songs, given the length of their material. The venue was easily 75% full from the start of their set, and Falls Of Rauros had the room's full attention. They played a song they simply described as 'ancient,' as their closer; I'm not sure what album it was from, but it fit right in with the newer material. I was impressed with the band's execution their 10-minute long tracks in a live setting. I'm now even more disappointed that I opted to miss this band in 2017. This performance — and the strength of their new record — was convincing enough that I need to make every effort to see them live again.
Official Bandcamp: fallsofrauros.bandcamp.com
The second act of the evening — and the only one I knew absolutely nothing about — was Wayfarer. It took very little time for me to understand why they were on this tour, as their sound was like a more groove-heavy variation on what Falls Of Rauros was doing. Both bands' material features long, purely instrumental passages and harsh, wretched vocals. The bass presence in Wayfarer's material was really ear-catching, and the band's arsenal of riffs were both extremely heavy and groovy as Hell. I really enjoyed how both bands' sound had similar elements but were vastly different in execution.
Wayfarer didn't name any of their songs, and I'd never heard of them before, so I can't tell you what they played. I can tell you that I'm definitely a fan now, and the songs all sounded great. About midway through their set, one of the guitarists broke a string, but this was resolved fairly quickly — one of the guitarists in Saor just happened to be travelling with a spare, identical looking Gibson and just swapped it out. The band handled all of this very well, and the show resumed after about 2-3 minutes. The place was completely packed, and everyone seemed to be enjoying the show.
Official Bandcamp: wayfarercolorado.bandcamp.com
I forget exactly when Saor's set started, as I was on my sixth beer of the night and was quite enjoying myself. The show was incredibly packed, but the atmosphere was really fun and casual. Not that there was any room for it, but there was no obnoxious moshing or any meathead bullshit. This was good, because I don't think there was any kind of security for the show, but things worked out just fine. Saor took the stage and I was close enough to read their setlist.
Once again, I have to commend the sound engineering for this show; Saor sounded phenomenal. The guitars, bass, drums and electric fiddle all sounded nearly as good as on the records. The songs seemed to have more instrumental runs, with fewer vocals, but otherwise everything was reproduced very faithfully. They played the title tracks to the Forgotten Paths (review), Aura and Roots albums, as well as the closing track, "Tears Of A Nation," from Guardians. The set was a good sample of the band's discography, and was executed almost flawlessly. The house was packed solid at this point, and everyone was loving the set — there was even a brief, restrained mosh pit during "Aura" — and it was pretty cool to be surrounded by ~150 people into the same ultra-obscure band as you.
My only complaint is that they didn't play "Hearth," (from Guardians) but that's as minor as they come. Saor put on as good of a show as I could have hoped for. Falls Of Rauros defied my expectations, and Wayfarer made a new fan in me as well. It may have cost me train fare from Ottawa to Montreal, and a hotel room, but this was still exceptionally good value from a $21 ticket. Given the quality of their live performance, I am really hoping that Saor tour more in the future; not only do I want to see them again, more people need the opportunity to see them in the first place.
This was easily one of the most fun shows I've been to; a small, incredibly intimate venue and a really entertaining line-up. All of the bands were great, I had a fun time — and didn't render myself incapable of recalling the night — and will remember this show for a very long time.
Official Bandcamp: saor.bandcamp.com
Published: July 24th, 2019.