– By Amrit Sandhu
The Drake Hotel has a wonderful hidden vibe to it, somehow you are enchanted into another world when you head downstairs and get into their venue. Decorated for the holidays, you could not escape the cozy atmosphere.
The sold out show opened with VACAY doing an half an hour set. VACAY or as known as Levi Randall, was absolutely phenomenal. As soon as VACAY is voice travelled throughout the small venue and swooned the audience in the front. The beautiful melody and lyrics carried over the crowd and resonated with the crowd, by making everyone mesmerized at just the words alone.
As soon as VACAY was finished his set, the air was heavy with anticipation as BANNERS was on next. Known as Mike Nelson, BANNERS comes from Liverpool, England. He had started singing in the Liverpool Anglican Choir and the Liverpool Kop. He released his debut single under another moniker named RAINES, since then he has changed it to BANNERS Influenced by many artists, such as the Beatles to Arcade Fire, the diversity showed in his set. BANNERS absolutely smashed his set. It was not only breathtakingly beautiful and elegant but it also had a hint of cool edginess that was refreshing. He not only resonated with the audience but BANNERS brought the whole crowd to their feet and sang along with every word. Even though there were technical difficulties before he started, it was his Christmas wish to get it all working before performing (which ended up working just fine). He played “Empires on Fire”, “Firefly”, “Gold Dust”, “Into the Storm”, in addition to singles “Ghosts”, “Start a Riot” and “Shine a Light” (and many others).
His new single “Start a Riot” was a smash hit and if you heard the album version and thought it was amazing, wait till you hear it live. It’s absolutely magical. He also brought a new guitar along with him and played it for the audience at The Drake Hotel that night. I don’t know if he was joking or not but he named the new guitar “Jose Bautista”. His second last song of the night was “Have Yourself a Merry Christmas” and wished everyone a happy holiday season, which brought holiday spirit right into his set. It was his famed single that became popular after appearing in FIFA 2016 “Shine a Light” that he saved the best for last and still had people hooked on every word he sung. The whole set was fantastic, I pretty much melted because of the smoothness of his voice and how fantastic of a singer he is. People were waiting for an encore but I’m pretty sure the next time BANNERS plays he will definitely play an encore.
The hype is true. BANNERS is amazing. I cannot wait for BANNERS next show, it is definitely worth going to, and I will the first one in line in order to see him live in Toronto again. Please come back soon BANNERS!