The ability to silence a crowd completely with music is something few artists and musicians can do. To have complete silence in a venue is rare, but it doesn’t seem to be a rarity for Swedish singer-songwriter José González. He was in Vancouver this past Friday evening as part of his North American tour in support of his latest LP, Vestiges & Claws, and it was simply magical.
Kicking off the sold-out show at the Imperial was the adorable Icelandic singer-songwriter Ólöf Arnalds. She played a short and sweet 30-minute set that included songs both in English and Icelandic and often interacted with the audience between songs. Arnalds charmed the audience with her winning personality and lovely songs, complete with her distinctly high-pitched vocals and finger-picked accompaniment on the guitar and charango.
By the time González took to the stage, the audience was primed for the rest of the evening and very keen on seeing him perform. Loud cheers welcomed the Swede and his four-member band to the stage, and after a quick greeting, his jam-packed set began.
We were taken on a blissful trip thanks to an ace collection of songs pulled from González’s vast discography. The set included songs from his solo albums and EPs and from his Junip discography, as well as a number of his famous covers.
With his band to fill out the sound, songs like “Killing For Love” built to glorious climaxes, complete with sweeping melodies, beautiful harmonizations and head-bobbing beats. González’s band left the stage for a few songs, allowing for hauntingly gorgeous performances of obvious crowd favourites “Crosses” and “Hints”. It became so silent in the venue during these solo performances and you couldn’t help but be completely spellbound by González’s remarkable talent.
Before we knew it, it was time for the encore, which started off with a solo performance of “Heartbeats”, originally by fellow Swedes The Knife but now a song that has become synonymous with González. This was followed by a cover of The Velvet Underground’s “I’ll Be Your Mirror” with Arnalds and the whole band returning to the stage. The night ended with a rousing rendition of “Leaf Off / The Cave” that had the audience clapping and singing along, concluding with enormous applause that reflected the overwhelming love for González.
Stories We Build, Stories We Tell
Killing For Love
Hand On Your Heart
With the Ink of a Ghost
Let It Carry You
This is How We Walk on the Moon
Down the Line
I’ll Be Your Mirror (The Velvet Underground)
Leaf Off / The Cave