Photography & Words By: Adam R. Harrison
Some people say rock n’ roll is dead. But if you were anywhere near Toronto’s REBEL Nightclub on Tuesday night, July 3, you’d see, and hear, and feel that rock n’ roll is very much alive. A packed crowd of young and beautiful people packed the waterside venue to sing, dance and rock out to Icelandic blues rockers, Kaleo.
Still touring off the success of their second album A/B, the quintet band from Mosfellsbær opened their 75-minute set with a slow build up. Four sweet and tender songs including “All the Pretty Girls,” before giving us a good slap in the face with crunchy rock riffs featured in the likes of “No Good” and “Hot Blood.”
Kaleo even look like an old-school rock band. Lead singer, JJ Julius Son, rocked an aviation jacket until it was time to get hot and sweaty. Then it was nothing but plain tees, tanks and ripped jeans. A wardrobe The Boss himself would approve of.
Jökull Júlíusson (his native name) is the centre of the band. His deep, smoky, rich voice – the likes of which we haven’t heard in decades – is so powerful, it does the walking and talking for him. His vocals are clear, crisp and hit the very back corners of the room. Júlíusson even impressed with a cover of “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down),” a hauntingly bluesy tune written by Sonny Bono and originally performed by Cher.
Kaleo closed the main set with their commercially successful hit “Way Down We Go,” but returned for a two-song encore which included “Glass House,” a song that encourages all to flail their arms and sing along to.
It’s bands like Kaleo that remind us why we love going to concerts so much. The energy, the passion, the adrenaline, the atmosphere, the sweat, the comradery… oh yeah, and the bloody music! Simply put, we need more bands like Kaleo.