There’s no better venue in Victoria than Club 9one9 for a glam-rocker of the calibre of Diamond Rings (Toronto’s John O’Regan), with its wraparound lights and Rubik’s cube dance floor. Both saw heavy action at Rings’ show last Friday–the first on his cross-Canada tour–alongside synth-rockers Gold & Youth.
Despite a lacklustre crowd (due to an early set time, not a substandard performance) Gold & Youth spun an impressive catalogue of austerely beautiful electronic rock. The band is a direct descendant and fervent worshipper of the Depeche Mode/Interpol bloodline, with a shadowy tone that sounds great, although more oxidized and jaded than golden and youthful. This marks an interesting stage in their musical evolution when you consider that three of their four members played, until recently, earnestly upbeat pop-rock under the name Raccoons.
They were a well-matched opener: similar enough in scope to warrant the connection, but at a slower burn to ease into the night. Clearly they’d hoped for a bigger sendoff on their cross-country tour, evidenced near the end of their set when keyboardist and singer Louise Burns pointed to the glowing ground and said “This is a dance floor. Just saying.”
Diamond Rings needed no such directive, as the anticipating crowd poured down the stairs and pressed against the stage. Soon the lights died, the room dark but for the backlit jewel logo on a kickdrum, a sort of glam rock Bat Signal. When they rose again, there stood John O’Regan — an assumption, because the figure centre stage was disguised behind glowing bug-eye goggles and what appeared to be a shimmering thermal blanket, which caught the newly risen lights and scattered them around the room.
He soon shed the cloak and proceeded to deliver one hell of a concert. Live, O’Regan and his band of sunglass-wearing, diamond-emblazoned musicians rough up the slick synth sound of his two records, 2010’s Special Affections and Free Dimensional, released last month. Adding a second guitar and replacing a drum machine with the real thing adds a muscular element to the music that the recordings lack.
O’Regan himself is an exquisite showman, decked in white studded leather and manically stomping and lunging around stage, his face running with sweat but his dark eye shadow, blush and cherry red lipstick always immaculate. For a brief moment, he transported the best parts of 80s glam rock into 2012, with all the fun and none of the cheese.
Review and photo by Grady Mitchell