Monday, July 28, 2008

She & Him, Opera House, Toronto, July 23, 2008

She & Him are M. Ward and Zooey Deschanel.

Mr. Ward you should already be familiar with. Whether it is his fine work on albums such as Post-War, Transfigurations of Vincent, and Transistor Radio or through various guest work with artists such as My Morning Jacket, Jenny Lewis, or Bright Eyes.

Zooey you may have seen in various roles on the silver screen. Whether it was in Elf, Bridge to Terabithia, or as the cool older sister you always wanted in Almost Famous. She seems to have taken the old actor's adage of "One for the studios, and one for yourself" to heart. It certainly has made for an interesting career trajectory.

A few years back while filming The Go-Getter, Zooey was introduced to M. Ward who was composing the film's score and soundtrack. They collaborated on a version of Linda and Richard Thompson's When I Get to the Border.

They got to talking about Zooey's home recording demo's she kept to herself and with some prodding her and Matt started working together on these. Via email from Zooey's home in Los Angeles to Matt's adopted city of Portland. Back and forth. Forth and back. In the interim She and Him, and their debut recording, Volume 1 was birthed.

Wednesday night at the Opera House brought the outfit to the fair streets of Toronto. Despite their moniker, leave no question, this is clearly Zooey's spotlight. Like on the album, Ward seems content to add flourishes and backing to Deschanel's vocals

The crowd was clearly putty in the hands of Ms. Deschanel, who to her credit never once offered anything aside to the fact that she was a wide-eyed ingenue. Aside from a few one-off shows, this was actually the first night of the She & Him extended tour. But even a few missed cues and confusion were not enough to put off the doe-eyed crowd. It speaks to Dechanel, whose "aw shucks" demeanor wins over even the most cynical. When faced with the chorus of groans that greeted her "last song of the night" proclamation, it only took a pluckish, "Hey, whaddya expect, we only got one album," to resign the masses.

Deschanel floated between vocals, tambourine, and piano through the set. Ward, playing to stage right quietly evoked until a short solo several songs in that brought yells of appreciation from the faithful.

The night featured a full backing band who rocked out a few numbers. As well received as they were, the highlight of the night was when the band departed mid-set leaving Ward and Deschanel alone on the stage. Through several songs they reminded the crowd of their moniker before inviting the band back on to close out the show.

Following one of the more resounding and heartfelt requests I've seen in a while, the duo returned for a pleasing version of Bring it on Home to Me, before concluding the evening with a run through of Ward's Magic Trick.

M. Ward - Magic Trick mp3 (from Post-War)
She & Him - I Was Made For You mp3

As previously mentioned they are out on tour. Check out their myspace for dates near you.