Tracyanne & Danny with Photo Ops
What should have been a purely joyous evening at the Biltmore Cabaret last night, despite subject matters including heartbreak, depression, and mortality, was marred by a single audience member. But headliners Tracyanne & Danny – that’s Tracyanne Campbell of Glasgow’s Camera Obscura and Danny Coughlan of Bristol’s Crybaby – maintained their calm and, as the theme of the night’s music went, overcame their adversity.
Vancouver’s Jody Glenham began the show without her usual backing band, the Dreamers. But local pianist/composer Nathan Shubert brightened the corners of her songs from behind a keyboard. Glenham regularly draws comparisons Mazzy Star, but instead of delicately and intricately finger-picking her guitar, she delicately and loosely strummed it. Her brief six-song set included “Gypsy Babe”, “Dreamer”, and at least two new tracks: “Barely Alive” and one on which she sang of roses, fresh marigold, and loving someone until her blood runs cold. Both songs fell within the same lulling range as her other dreamy pop and rock numbers.
Ordinarily, the music of second opener, LA-via-Nashville’s Terry Price, aka Photo Ops, is a sprawling mix of pop, folk, and rock. But he made his Vancouver debut last night in the form of another guitar-and-keys duo, with Preston Garland on keys.
Despite Photo Ops’ distilled form, the emotion in Price’s music remained as raw and vibrant as ever. His emotion is the backbone of his music, which deals with loss, substance use, and the messy, difficult parts of relationships. But his spirit is optimistic, even victorious. On “To Move On”, he sang: “I look into the face of my depression. I call it out in the street and teach it a lesson. Hey, doctor, is it okay if I just simply move on? Enough time spent on the past for your satisfaction.” He does not linger in the past. He is unafraid to face his issues and bares his struggles with naked honesty.
Another highlight of Photo Ops’ set was “July”, his latest single from a forthcoming album. In 2015, he was stricken with Bell’s palsy, which paralyzed the left side of his face for six months. During that time, his father passed away at age 55, after having struggled with schizo-effective disorder for decades. On “July”, Price acknowledges how fleeting and short life is. “It is what it is. I hope you find your way.… I’m not gonna wait up to go out waiting in the sunlight.” Price at once dismantles taboos surrounding depression and death while providing hope and encouragement to live life to its fullest.
Merchandise taxes, temporary work permits and visas, and other bureaucratic fees mean it’s expensive for bands to play internationally. Unfortunately, that meant instead of bringing musicians with them, Tracyanne & Danny played dual guitars (and a bit of tambourine) to backtracks. “We weren’t gonna apologize for being this cheap,” Tracyanne said jokingly. “Just blame it on Brexit,” Danny finished.
Tracyanne & Danny played every song from their only LP, last year’s self-titled. They padded their set with stories from their love lives, which gave thorough context to many of their songs. Often, they prompted each other to disclose their romantic (and sexual) fumbles by humorously barbing each other with quick and casual piss-takes. Tracyanne recounted a trip out of town during which she ran into her ex, who was on his honeymoon; such was the inspiration behind “The Honeymooners”. Danny wondered if his ex, who ended up in prison, ever received a letter he wrote her, a thought that related to “Cellophane Girl”.
Tracyanne & Danny also played non-album tracks “Can’t Get Over You” and “Baby’s Got It Bad”. Eventually, the duo ran out of songs and fielded requests. Fans hammered them with calls for Camera Obscura’s “Razzle Dazzle Rose”. Tracyanne & Danny considered Crybaby cuts but settled on a fan’s suggestion of Daniel Johnston’s “True Love Will Find You in the End”, which sounded remarkably peppy in their skillfully twee hands.
Unfortunately, Tracyanne & Danny’s stories weren’t everyone’s cup of tea – at least not Danny’s stories. Near the end of the night, an audience member interrupted one of Coughlan’s tales. “I’m sorry, but can we hear more of her and less of you?” she asked while pointing to Tracyanne and then to Danny. The audience member tried to explain herself as everyone else rain boos upon her and encouraged Danny to continue with his story. “It’s like a wrestling match,” Tracyanne said, commenting on the riled crowd. “It’s like Brexit all over again,” Danny chimed in before they slipped into “Home & Dry”. Ultimately, the uncouth audience member apologized, but it made no difference as Tracyanne & Danny carried on, business as usual, and wrapped up the otherwise emotional, inspiring night with “It Can’t Be Love Unless It Hurts”.
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