Victoria reggae-folk band Jon and Roy played one of the 2015’s last shows at the Imperial on Sunday, December 27th. Fresh off of the release of their sixth studio album, Riverside, the trio filled Vancouver’s Main Street venue with possibly the most couples ever seen in one room.
Burnaby folk-singer/songwriter Luca Fogale opened the show with romantic lyrics to a very receptive crowd. “Thank you for being so attentive. I play a lot of loud rooms,” Fogale said. His soft serenading style really resonated with the audience’s date night vibes.
Victoria singer Kandle followed Fogale, taking the stage with two fellow blonde guest musicians – the image was very Dixie Chicks-esque.
“I usually play with a five-piece boy band, and I was so nervous that I got two Barbies to play with me,” Kandle remarked, laughing.
Kandle’s playful charm and folk-noir style captured the audience while building the excitement for the feature act. Guest fiddler Kendel Carson would return to the stage near the end of the show for a collaboration with Jon and Roy.
Once Jon and Roy took the stage it became evident that much of the audience had an intimate appreciation of their music. The trio opened with their new album’s title-track, “Riverside”, with many concert-goers singing along. One audience member remarked that he had first seen the band in Byron Bay, Australia in 2006, and much of the venue was filled with fans from Tofino. “It’s really great beach music, you know?” said one of them.
There’s nothing like seeing a band clearly having fun onstage, and frontman Jon Middleton, percussionist Roy Vizer, and bassist Louis Sadava were really, really having fun. Playing songs from their earliest days as a group to tracks from their newest album, the trio delivered one of their signature polished, highly rhythmic performances with a cherry on top. The energy was high, and the laughs kept coming from both the band and the audience.
Jon and Roy’s beautiful and subtly seductive “Every Night” was one of the evening’s highlights, along with “Vibrant Scene”. But the real fun began when the band called trumpeter Phil Hamelin and trombonist Dave St. Jean of the Vancouver Island ska reggae band Dope Soda up for the rest of the show. The latter had already been playfully yelling things at the boys from the audience, and seeing the group of buddies onstage was extremely enjoyable. The five teaming up for “Let It Go” made that song the liveliest of the evening. Answering the call for an encore with a “Louie Louie” medley, Jon and Roy sent fans home smiling – the excitement and obvious love for the music they have created was infectious. Authentic and relaxed shows like this are why Jon and Roy continuously fill venues with return customers.
“We were like, ‘Come to Main and Hastings. It’s really awesome down here!’ And you came!” Sadava said as the band ended the evening.