January 30, 2019

Honors: LIVE in Toronto – A Review.

Bumping into lead singer Patrick Gillett of Honors in a Tim Hortons’ an hour before he got on stage, marked the start of one of the most intimate shows I’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing.

Canadian band, Honors, stopped in Toronto as part of their North American tour. Gillett, alongside drummer Andrew Martino, bassist Tyler Armes, and vocalist Cameron Hunter, played The Mod Club on the evening of January 25th to the excitement of a full house. In addition to the hundreds of fans in attendance, the band from The Beaches had local support in the form of family and friends.

Hitting the stage before Honors was Fjord, a duo based out of Quebec. While they supplied soft melodies and high hitting notes, it was clear who the majority of the audience was anticipating.

Jumping up on stage first was Armes, who warmed up the crowd by playing some introductory beats. But, when upon hearing the sound was off, he yelled backstage, “Let’s try it again”. And off they went again – a second attempt at perfection.

It was clear that Honors wasn’t there to play their music, they were there to deliver a performance. I’ve always believed that playing music is easy when compared to performing on stage. Honors’ live set was an improbable step up from an already remarkable collection of music. The band played for a little over an hour and had a setlist that included unreleased music, as well as some of their biggest hits including ‘Over’, ‘Feel Better’, and ‘Betterman’.

Whether you were an old fan or a new fan it didn’t take long to realize that each band member was a performer in their own right. Apart from Armes’ intro, about halfway through the show, the band vacated the stage leaving Gillett alone to perform an entire song solo. Using no backup instrumentals, he played his electric guitar while using his mouth to hold a beat. Gillett is no stranger to strong vocals but being left alone to perform singled out his raw musical talent.

Following this, Martino performed his on variation of a solo. Using his drum kit and percussion pad, he played different variations of drum solos, including covering some of the biggest hits, such as Sheck Wes’ ‘Mo Bamba’ that left audiences in headbangin’ fit.

And while Hunter’s contributions included his rap vocals and launchpad, he was also the band’s main MC: keeping the energy high, dancing around the stage, and jumping into the crowd. In charge of getting hands in the air, he also reminded fans to put down their phones and enjoy the moment. Unlike traditional bands where one member takes centre stage, every member of Honors shared the spotlight, giving fans a diverse musical experience.

Though only four members are seen on stage, there’s also some much-needed praise that needs to be given to the crew backstage. The lighting sequence on stage perfectly captured each song’ tone and message. From the rapid bursts of strobe lights to the sensual deep red glows, the combination of visible and audible art was as close to physically seeing music notes as humanly possible. Easily, the fifth member of Honors is the lighting crew.

And while the band didn’t come out for an encore, they did one better by surprising fans by coming from backstage to chat, interact and snap a few pictures.

As Honor continues on the road in Canada followed by the United States, their third official hometown show was a perfect level of intimacy: personal like a garage band, but like that of a sold-out stadium tour. Fans awaiting to attend an Honors concert should anticipate the feeling the same way. Honors will return to Toronto on April 5th, 2019 at The Drake Hotel with Foreign Air.

Tyler Armes joined Barry and Matt on Sessions to talk about the genesis of Honors.  Listen to the full chat here:

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