Words: Miljan Milekić
Little did I know what I was getting myself into while putting on my black Element Skateboards hoodie, and throwing on an equally black snapback. Of course, I knew Reuben and his music, and I had a vague idea of the shows Reuben And The Dark deliver, but I still wasn’t ready for what I was about the get. Living in Saskatoon for only six months, I still haven’t been to The Broadway Theatre, but I was aware of its legendary status in the city’s history and culture. The moment I went through the front door, that history was thrown into my face, giving away strong ‘50s or ‘60 vibes, with its huge pop-corn machine at the bar, and vintage interior. And it was here that I was taken out of my comfort zone.
Not only that I felt like I am sticking out like a sore thumb, in my black hoodie and snapback, surrounded by people in suits, button-down shirts, or evening dresses, but I was completely thrown off seeing chairs in the theatre. For whatever reason, in my mind, I was expecting that it was one of the multi-purpose, re-adjustable venues, but I found myself in the traditional, vintage mid-century theatre in all its glory. But, why am I mentioning all of this? Because it mattered. On this show, the Broadway Theatre wasn’t just a venue. It was an active participant.
From the moment Reuben And The Dark stepped on the stage it felt like everything opened up. They kicked in strong, with ‘Rising,’ before sliding into ‘Yes,’ dedicated to a couple in the front row, who recently tied a knot, using the song for their walk down the aisle, and a powerful rendition of ‘Comming Like A Storm.’ The sound coming from the stage was clear, powerful, and the perfect acoustic of the theatre brought it up to life on a whole different level, making every tone reach every corner of the room.
The giant disco ball above the band, along with the amazing light display tied everything together, to the point that the band fell in love with it. At least according to singer Reuben Bullock, who mentioned quite a few times how much he would love to take it down after the show and bring it with them for the rest of the tour. And this was also the part that made me think the venue was a big part of this show. Whether it’s the band’s hypnotic music, the otherworldly visuals, the fact that everyone was seated, or the combination of all three, it felt like the crowd never actually took an active role in the show.
Every song was followed by huge applause and ovations, but it would mostly end there, apart from a few exchanges during Reuben’s banter between songs, and the powerful, whisper-singing closure of ‘Hold Me Like A Fire,’ which was a real moment to remember. In a way, it felt like there was an invisible wall between the band and the fans, making a clear distinction between performers and spectators. And growing up in the punk rock scene, this was a whole new ground for me. However, make no mistake, I am not saying it was a bad thing. It was just something different, and I can bet that every single person that occupied one of those seats would go through this experience again in a heartbeat.
The band, on the other hand, was quick to turn it to their advantage. On more than one occasion, Bullock would step away from his microphone and keep singing, using the theatre’s flawless acoustics, and still reaching all the people in the room. The band would play their songs but also play with them, changing their shape, speeding them up and slowing them down, making them living, breathing creatures in a way. And whether they took on calmer numbers such as ‘Dancer,’ and ‘All My Friends,’ or the more energetic ‘Heart In Two,’ every single one of them sounded powerful, emotional, and personal. The end of the show once again showed the band in its full force, with strong, energetic ‘Rolling Stone,’ and ‘Hurricane,’ along with crowd request which turned into ‘Trouble.’
The show itself started with Clea Anaïs and her backing band. Cruising through a variety of genres, from dream pop to indie rock, the trio on the stage delivered a solid display with little room for error. It didn’t take long for them to win the crowd over, and with their diverse sound and artistic edge, I’m sure they will pick up at least a few new fans on this tour.
There is one thing however I would not agree with Clea. The weather wasn’t bad. Earlier that day, the Saskatchewan Winter decided to give us probably the one last snowfall of the season, and I can easily think of worse things than the sound of the fresh snow under my feet, beneath the night sky, with Reuben And Dark still ringing in my ears. And in just a couple of days, that snow will be gone, making room for longer, brighter days. In lieu of dark.