rob mcmahon/for metro vancouver


Mew guitarist Bo Madsen at Richard’s on Richards on Tuesday night.


Richard’s on Richards seems an unlikely venue for a prog-rock extravaganza.

But on Tuesday night, the room was transformed as air-guitarists enthusiastically joined ranks with Mew’s dramatic performance.

And judging by the crowd, which included an enthusiastic couple who hung a Danish flag from the balcony, epic space rock is a guilty pleasure for quite a few Vancouverites. The band, who decided to make music together in grade seven, delivered an irony-free performance alluding to that pre-teen sense of wonder.

Singer Jonas Bjerre — who creates the background visuals — spent much of the show with his head titled to the sky and eyes closed, his high-pitched vocals soaring over Bo Madsen’s chugging guitars. Bassist Johan Wohlert played like the band’s biggest fan, swaying his sweat-drenched head and singing along — despite his location metres from the mic stand. Even the band’s keyboardist head-banged like one of Bon Jovi’s finest.

Images of fireflies with human heads, a Playmobil-styled car crash and tigers with spinning eyes accompanied the songs. This setup worked best during Apocalypso, a menacing number backed by graphics of dark woods and wolves that recalled a surreal Blair Witch Project.

The songs played out well, though some of the intricacies of the recorded material were lost. While the extended opening melded tracks together, afterwards, the band split the set into distinct songs, a bit of a disappointment considering the seamless flow of their newest, Mew and the Glass Handed Kites. However, the breaks allowed for stage banter — which the audience responded to by pulling their jaws from the floor and cheering.

In all, a night of old-fashioned rock n’ roll escapism — just what Vancouver needs after too much rain. Hopefully Mew will be back in the dead of winter, when we need them most.