We originally saw the announcement for the TD Main Stage Sunday show at this year’s Sound of Music Festival, and were in awe at the names on the bill for this free afternoon of music on the Burlington, ON, waterfront: Lee Harvey Osmond, The Skydiggers, and The Cowboy Junkies (check back soon for our recap of these performances). Plans were quickly made to be in the GTA for the weekend, and once our commitment was made, the addition of The Julian Taylor Band to the show became the icing on the cake for us. Having not seen this Toronto soul-rock band since late 2017, we were very excited to have the opportunity to hear some of the great new material from Taylor’s most recent “Avalanche” album.
From our experience, the early slots at festivals often see a band playing to just a handful of people, but upon our arrival, we were happy to see a decent crowd congregating around the stage. We were a little late to the party, as the band were already in full swing, yet there was still plenty of room to walk right up to the stage railing to catch a great view. Being accustomed to seeing an eight-piece band, we would experience our first taste of the six-piece band (the lite version), although missing just one saxophonist and one pianist did not negatively impact the music in any way. “Happy Summer,” Taylor stated following an outstanding performance of “Bobbi Champagne.” “Is it summer yet?” he continued, observing the cool and overcast weather that threatened rain, but would soon move through and be replaced with appropriate summer weather.
With about a 40 minute set at their disposal, the band certainly threw in several popular tracks from their 2014 “Tech Noir” and 2016 “Desert Star” albums, whilst including three tunes from “Avalanche.” Both recent singles, “Sweeter,” and “Back Again” were shared, along with the addition of “Time” from the 2019 release, interspersed with hits such as “You Say,” “Just A Little Bit,” and the reggae-inspired “The Belly of the Underman.” Wishing all in attendance a happy father’s day (Julian could be seen later backstage enjoying the day with his daughter at his side), the band closed with the up-tempo tracks, “Set Me Free” and “Zero to Eleven,” earning a well-deserved round of applause from a much larger crowd than 40 minutes earlier. Totally understandable – I’m sure that many walking by could not resist checking out the amazing music on offer here from these six gentlemen on a Sunday afternoon. We certainly cannot wait to have the opportunity to do it again.
Set List (note: the show had started prior to our arrival – apologies for anything missing here):
- You Say
- Just A Little Bit
- Bobbi Champagne
- Back Again
- The Belly of the Underman
- Set Me Free
- Zero To Eleven