Massey Fucking Hall

Massey Fucking Hall by Japandroids album review by Leslie Chu. The duo'd ful-length comes out on June 19th via Anti/Arts & Crafts Records
Massey Fucking Hall by Japandroids

Our Rating

8.5

Live shows are about making memories, and Japandroids’ first live album, Massey Fucking Hall, captures a special one: it’s the sound of a dream coming true for the Canadian rockers. “We never thought we’d have the opportunity to play at Massey Hall. It’s the most legendary venue in Canada by far,” drummer David Prowse said of the 126-year-old Toronto theatre in a press release. He and bandmate Brian King already lay it all on the line in their beer-and-sweat- soaked live shows, but with such reverence for Massey Hall, the duo brought their A-game on this particular night in 2017.

Drawn from all three of their albums – Post-Nothing (2009), Celebration Rock (2012), and Near To the Wild Heart of Life (2017) – Massey Fucking Hall’s 12-song set list spans 16 tracks over an hour and two minutes. (Four of the tracks are interludes, mostly of banter and audience reactions.) The band deliberately cap each studio album at a lean eight songs, following what Prowse and King call the template for great rock albums, like Patti Smith’s Horses, Television’s Marquee Moon, the Stooge’s Raw Power, and Led Zeppelin’s Led Zeppelin IV. Thus, there’s little filler on Massey Fucking Hall; basically every song is a fan favourite.

Massey Fucking Hall captures Japandroids doing what they do best: playing like there’s no tomorrow. After starting off hot with “Near To the Wild Heart of Life,” the burning adrenaline rush of “Fire’s Highway,” and desperate churn of “Hearts Sweats,” “Arc of Bar” comes in timely fashion. The song’s swirling keyboard is as sweeping live as one would expect and offers a nice change of pace and tone for the band’s usual full-throttle drive. At eight minutes in length, “Arc of Bar” is also the most monolithic song on the album, more than two minutes longer than the next longest song, “Hearts Sweats.”

The core of Japandroids’ spirit, their carpe diem attitude, is on full display on Massey Fucking Hall. Their songs are all about the fire and thrill of youth. They’re about not only burning the candle at both ends but cutting it in half and burning it at four. “Younger Us” bleeds this passion. “The Nights of Wine and Roses” and “Young Hearts Spark Fire” toast those endless nights. “Sovereignty” and “The House That Heaven Built” are odes to blazing your own path and not looking back even for a second. They’re odes to doing what you need to do, doing what’s right for you, even if that means choosing the difficult path.

In the aforementioned press release, Prowse recalls being wracked with nerves before to taking the stage at Massey Hall. The show was a blur in his memory. Thankfully, the show has been captured as a clear reminder of a special evening for everyone who was there – and an artifact of what everyone else missed out on. Japandroids attack their songs with such intent and passion on Massey Fucking Hall that it’s impossible to tell there were any nerves.

review by Leslie Chu

order Massey Fucking Hall by Japandroids here