The Boy Least Likely To have spent the last two months touring across North America. They made a stopover in New York City for the first time and performed a sold out show at the trendy Tribeca rock club, the Knitting Factory. Opening were Toronto’s retro pop/rock bigade The Bicycles, whose merriment showed in their enegetic chord progressions and vibrant rhythms which vested a kindred spirit with the show’s headliners.
Jof Owen and Peter Hobbs appeared on stage accompanied by five additional musicians – two keyboard players, a bass guitarist, a banjo-guitarist, and a drummer. The extra musicians were not only intuitive when it came to keeping in time with playing their instruments and holding duties on vocal harmonies, they also had the task of keeping up with Owen and Hobbs who would break into an impromptu conversation in the middle of a song or rearrange the order of the setlist to satisfy the audience’s wishes.
Most of the setlist came from the duo’s recent album The Best Party Ever, opening the show with the jolly, inspirational tune Hugging My Grudge. As Owen pounded his fists in the air, the audience sang along to the verses, engaged from the start by ringing glockenspiel chimes, upbeat tempo and bobbing rhythmic rolls. The group sprinted into the delightful, aural pulses of When I Grow Up I Want To Be A Boy Again.
In between songs, Owen and Hobbs prodded the audience to be a part of the show, starting up conversations with the crowd about why they came out to see the band. The exchange consisted of shared experiences about feeling stage-fright when speaking in public, and then Owen and Hobbs spoke about the American customs that they recently learned, like how to high-five. So deeply taken by this custom, the pair demonstrated the act of high-fiving to an enthused crowd that cheered them on, then Owen high-fived everyone in the front row.
The duo also took a liking to the American expression for “awesome”. Everyone and everything was to them for the rest of the evening, especially the audience member who brought a budding sunflower to the show. It was passed onto the stage where Hobbs accepted it very appreciatively. The band dived right back into their set with the infectious I See Spiders When I Close My Eyes and the playful doddering tempo of Paper Cuts, which Owen revealed was one of the first songs that the duo ever wrote and recorded.
The band moved into a new track called Butterflies, which Owen tells that they recently recorded. The melody trots with dance/rock grooves and charming recorder intervals sprinkled along a crest of jeweled guitar incisions. They premiered a B-side track, Rock Upon A Porch, which Owen describes as about a couple who “fall in love and grow old together”. The union of male and female vocals – the latter performed by keyboardist Amanda Applewood – added a greater level of harmony and integration, producing a textured melodic richness.
The country/folk edges of the fiddle and banjo-guitar integrated with the rock vibes of the rhythm section, the gilded guitar lines and the intricate indentations of the twinkling toy-like sounds stylize the number Monsters, which Owen notes is about their hometown. One audience member shouts out that she wants to move in with Owen and Hobbs. In response, Owen says, “I’m looking forward to seeing you there.”
Other highlights of the show include the group’s cover version of George Michael’s hit single Faith which caused Owen to start giggling like a gitty child each time he came to the verse, “I need somebody to hold me.” Hobbs, on acoustic guitar, would catch the ball each time and bring the number back on course. Fur Soft As Fur and Be Gentle With Me went off without a mishap.
The Boy Least Likely To have crafted a new wave of pop/rock instrumentation with ingenious chord motions and bubbly rhythms that charmed their audience, their affable nature, spontaneity, and charming wit to which people responded to. The Boy Least Likely To’s songs make audiences feel young, naive and innocent.
Owen tells the crowd, “Don’t worry about getting married just yet. You have the rest of your life to get married.” Suddenly, being carefree and unhindered can be possible.