Recorded output is great, but for me, a true test of any band's worth is how it translates those songs live. Sloan is a band that has consistently delivered on both fronts for two decades now. Touring behind the excellent new album The Double Cross (reviewed by yours truly at Clicky Clicky), the Canadian power pop quartet (plus keyboardist Gregory MacDonald) played TT the Bears in Cambridge Wednesday night.
TT's is a tiny club and it was jam-packed with Sloan's usual audience: rock nerds and cute girls. Although the crowd tended to skew a bit younger than the last few times I saw the band, so maybe the new record is making its way to some new listeners. The band didn't rest on its laurels, launching right into the first three songs from The Double Cross, each of which has a different singer: Chris Murphy's "Follow the Leader," Jay Ferguson's "The Answer Was You" and Patrick Pentland's "Unkind." The album's been out a few months and it seemed most folks knew the new material, which is good because the band played 10 of its 12 songs.
But there was no shortage of older favorites: "Snowsuit Sound," "Everything You've Done Wrong," "Who Taught You to Live Like That," "The Lines You Amend," "Friendship" and "Losing California." With 10 albums out, there's plenty of great material to choose from. It was nice to hear "Gimme That" off 2003's Action Pact, a glossy hard rock-leaning joint that tends to get overlooked.
In the middle of the show, drummer Andrew Scott stepped out front and strapped on a guitar to sing a set of his own songs, including "Traces," "People of the Sky" and "Sinking Ships," a great cut off 1998's Navy Blues. Murphy jumped on the drums and did his always-entertaining Keith Moon impression.
The band wrapped the show with its usual raucous closer, "Money City Maniacs," which is about as perfect a road rock song as there is, complete with sirens, handclaps, bass breakdowns, a killer guitar solo and a riff that just won't quit. And there was just a tease of the opening of Sabbath's "War Pigs" before they were done for the night. Another great set from one of the truly underappreciated bands of the last 20 years.