BROKEN SOCIAL SCENE and special guest The Belle Game | Sunday, April 1, 2018 | Ponte Vedra Concert Hall
$46.50 – General Admission Standing Room
Broken Social Scene has partnered with PLUS1 so that $1 from each ticket will go to saving lives, revitalizing communities, and transforming global health through Partners In Health (www.pih.org).
“I don’t want to go out there being presumptuous,” Kevin Drew says, “because, I’ve worn those presumptuous shoes before, and you don’t want it to feel like, ‘Oh, what a let-down.’” That’s the fear when you bring back one of music’s most beloved names nearly seven years after their last album. But with Hug of Thunder, the fifth Broken Social Scene album, Drew and his bandmates have a right to feel presumptuous.
They have that right because they have created one of 2017’s most sparkling, multi-faceted albums. On Hug of Thunder the 15 members of Broken Social Scene refract their varying emotions, methods and techniques into something that doesn’t just equal their other albums, but surpasses them. It is righteous but warm, angry but loving, melodic but uncompromising. The title track on its own might just be the best thing you will hear all year – a song that will become as beloved as “Anthems for a Seventeen-Year-Old Girl” from their breakthrough album, You Forgot It in People.
Its title, Drew says, captured what he wanted people to feel about the group’s comeback, and how they sound playing together again: “It’s just such a wonderful sentiment about us, coming in like a hug of thunder.”
Broken Social Scene had reconvened, in varying forms, several times over the past four years – the odd festival show here and there, preferably ones that involved the least possible travelling. But the idea that they might turn their hand to something more than greatest-hits sets had been stirring since November 2014, when producer Joe Chiccarelli told Drew the group needed to make a new album.
“He started showing up at our label, asking if we were going to make an album,” Drew recalls. “He just didn’t give up; he just kept saying, ‘You’ve got to strike, you’ve got to do this, the time is now,’ and so finally we agreed.”
Recording finally began in April 2016 and the result is a panoramic, expansive album, 53 minutes that manages to be both epic and intimate. In troubled times it offers a serotonin rush of positivity: “Stay Happy” lives up to its title, with huge surges of brass that sound like sunshine bursting through clouds. “Gonna Get Better” makes a promise that the album is determined to deliver. That’s not to say it’s an escapist record: Broken Social Scene are completely engaged, wholly focused, and not ignoring the darkness that lurks outside. But there is no hectoring, no lecturing, but a recognition of the confusion and ambiguity of the world.
The gestation of Hug of Thunder was no idyll. When You Forgot It in People made their name, Broken Social Scene were young men and women. Fifteen years on, they were adults in or on the cusp of middle age, and – as Drew puts it – “all the adult problems in the world were happening around us individually, whether it was divorce or cancer.” Then there’s the fact of the size of the ensemble, and the number of competing voices. But, still, if they were to return, it had to be with everybody, no matter if that meant things might get unwieldy. “I’d like to believe that Broken Social Scene can be whatever it can be,” Canning says, “but I think the fact we’d gone away for so long meant we really, we really couldn’t have done the same thing without everyone involved, you know?” The story of Broken Social Scene, he insists, was built on the involvement of everyone, and so if the story was to be continued, those same people had to return.
So what do Broken Social Scene want listeners to take from Hug of Thunder? Canning wants it to make them “pause for the cause and maybe just leave things in your life alone for 53 minutes”. For Drew, it’s about what it’s always been about: making the connection. “I just hope they understand that there’s others out there, that they’re not alone,” he says.
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