What do the King of Spain, Spiderman and Rush Limbaugh have in common? To 300 screaming fans at the West End Cultural Center last Thursday night the answer was obvious -- they've all been "früvousized."
Moxy Früvous, the youthful a cappella band from Toronto, treated Winnipeg to a three-show festival of music last week, selling out two shows at the WECC and a third at the University of Winnipeg.
In typical Moxy style, the concert started off with a short, offbeat tune poking fun at the baseball strike and of course, the Toronto Blue Jays. From then on, it was open season on everyone, including Rush Limbaugh who had the honor of being sarcastically dubbed the "greatest man in America."
The quartet, consisting of Mike Ford, Murray Foster, Jean Ghomeshi and Dave Matheson entertained fans with all sorts of theatrics, impromptu comedy routines and specially prepared local material that made for a lively and more personal show.
"We like to react to (the fans) as they react to us," Ford said in an interview.
His comments explain why the foursome decided to play such small venues this time in Winnipeg despite selling out the 1200 seat Playhouse Theatre last year.
"(The Playhouse) is not conducive to an intimate show. We like to build our careers around small rooms," Ford explained.
The room may have been small, but the size of the audience was masked by the thundering applause greeting such crowd favorites as "Darlington Darling," "The Drinking Song," and "Stuck in the 90's," among others. Although songs off their album Bargainville attracted the most attention, Früvous performed a variety of material. And judging from audience response, new songs such as "Fly" are destined to be hits.
A few twists made the show even more interesting. "My Baby Loves a Bunch of Authors" was played with a relaxed Latin feel and "Spiderman" saw the musicians wander into the crowd as a pumped Ford ran and jumped down the aisle from the back entrance. During "King of Spain," Matheson donned the royal costume and improvised lyrics as he went along.
As an encore, Früvous launched into an upbeat version of "Love Potion Number Nine" intermixed with a little of "Stayin' Alive." The number added to the interesting list of cover material the band played, from the Beatles to ABBA's "Dancing Queen."
The final song, the serious and deeply political "Gulf War Song," was performed in four-part harmony, completely without microphones and instruments, displaying not only the diversity of the band, but also the powerful vocal talent that is Moxy Früvous.
Having just returned form touring in the UK and US, Früvous views their Canadian dates as a rest from the hectic schedule that has characterized their swift rise to fame. "The people (in Winnipeg) are really nice to us," Ghomeshi said after the last concert Friday night at the U of W.
What's next on the agenda for Früvous? After finishing their tour of Europe, the band wants to take a few months off to write for the next album which they hope to start recording in the spring. When asked what kind of music will characterize the sequel to Bargainville, Ford stated a desire to explore music. "What is Moxy Früvous? It's still all coming together," he explained.
Ghomeshi concurred. "(The album) is probably going to be different. We don't even know what it's going to sound like."
If last week's concerts are any indication, the next recording from the little band that was busking the streets of Toronto a mere four years ago will sound pretty damn good.