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Megan Bonnell – The Drake Hotel – Toronto Live Review


Megan Bonnell — The Drake Hotel – Toronto Live Review

Megan Bonnell The Drake Hotel


Who: Megan Bonnell
From: Ontario (Toronto-based)
Where: The Drake Hotel
When: February 15th, 2014


Total Score: 7/10


It’s been quite a journey for Toronto based musician Megan Bonnell as she ends a cross-Canada tour at the Drake Hotel — the very place, only months ago, that she celebrated the release of her lauded debut Hunt and Chase via Toronto independent label Nevado Records.

This night, there is a discernible progression in the talented artist’s stage presence and performance but something noteworthy was lacking preventing it from being the performance one would expect.

There’s a kaleidoscopic element to Bonnell’s music that often crosses various styles. At times its dreamlike characteristics transform into epic beat-driven chants evoking a very primal nature. On the whole it has a very raw, honest and smokey delivery that easily sucks in the listener.

Bonnell’s personality is simply infectious with a humble interaction with the crowd that often descended into witty sarcasm that went down well where many others would fail.

Bonnell has a lot of class and grace in her image. This is not a performer who needs to — nor wants to — adopt any hollow stylistic image that begrudgingly seems to be pushed upon emerging artists. Like many truly independent artists she has the talent and musicianship to back her up and attracts real music lovers as her audience. Mass media pressure need not apply. Her music is her image.

Although Hunt and Chase could still be classed as a relatively new record, having only released last October, Bonnell is already performing new songs on tour. We were treated to two in particular – tentatively called ‘Out and Away’ and ‘The Web’ — that demonstrated a natural progression in her already impressive songwriting abilities.

‘We Are Strangers’, one of the highlights of her debut, was perfectly executed this night. The spatial, smokey vocal delivery brought silence to the crowd — perfectly entranced by the moment. The band was also particularly tight and aided the transcending experience of witnessing this live performance.

Yet, this simply wasn’t enough of a highlight to forget some of the lower moments of the set. Technical difficulties seemed to break apart the atmosphere and focus was often lost on the crowd who turned to chatter in between songs, often times to the point where they had to be asked to quieten down; never an easy thing to do. At little over an hour in the performance, there was an evident surprise and disappointment at the abrupt conclusion of the set among the crowd that confusingly dispersed left wanting more.

Make no mistake about it; Megan Bonnell is a terrific performer, full of charm and wit to compliment her very emotionally engaging stage presence and delivery. Yet, minor technical difficulties and a disappointingly short set dampened what promised to be a special return to Toronto to an eager crowd of devoted followers. We were left on the wrong side of wanting more when only little glimmers of special moments were afforded to us. A promising effort nonetheless.

By: Feargal Daly