After the two leading members releasing “solo” albums (under the Broken Social Scene Presents name) and touring these albums over the past few years with a reduced line-up the full band are back touring in support of their latest “true” Broken Social Scene effort, Forgiveness Rock Record. Having seen the band once before during the Spirit If… tour (with the reduced line-up) it was a more than pleasant surprise to witness the band in all its 10-piece glory. They used the full gamut of members to great effect: with 4 guitarists, the guitar sound could easily have become an impenetrable wall of noise, but thanks to subtle volume adjustments and great mixing on behalf of the sound engineer the 4 guitars seemed well used and sat very well in the live mix. And the live arena is where Broken Social Scene shine – their albums have always been promising yet inconsistent (with 2005’s self-titled effort suffering from some appalling production to boot) but in the live arena they are very much able to play to their strengths, understanding which songs sound great and which songs to leave behind.
Their set list balances well chosen selections from their new record, including “Texico Bitches” and the barnstorming set opener “Meet Me in the Basement”, with older fan-favourites such as “Cause=Time” and “7/4 Shoreline”. The Broken Social Scene live performance is not really about the specific songs, however – it is much more about the sheer energy they cram into every song. They could almost be playing atonal Schoenberg symphonies and you'd still have a stupid smile plastered all over your face. In fact, their live show almost feels like a band playing a farewell tour: the set reads like a best-of, and every song is played with such genuine feeling and intensity that even if you came to the gig ignorant of Broken Social Scene you would be so impressed by the sheer effort displayed by the collective mass of the band that you would have to leave a fan.