Last time Marianas Trench played the Pacific Coliseum, they introduced storytelling, props, and costumes to their performance. This time, they learned the art of video storytelling, theatrics, stage design, telling life stories, fan service, and costume changes.
With Ever After – the album they are currently touring – being a concept album, the concert began with a video explaining the storyline of the show. The basic summary of the story is lead singer Josh Ramsay’s character has to find Princess Porcelain to save the lost toys from Queen Carolina. Band mates guitarist Matt Webb, bassist Mike Ayley, and drummer Ian Casselman play toy soldiers that later join Ramsay against Carolina. The video interludes continue periodically throughout the show.
Once the narration stopped, Ramsay appeared from a Jack in the box attached to a harness. He was lifted to the ceiling singing epic CD opener Ever After. Band mates joined him on stage as he did a flip on the harness while being lowered to the stage. Marianas Trench followed the six and a half minute tune by playing All to Myself from previous album Masterpiece Theatre, but the bigger surprise for fans was when the band played Shake Tramp from debut album Fix Me. Many recent Marianas Trench concerts go Fix Me-free, so hearing Shake Tramp, and later on Push, is a refreshing blast to the past.
The Face the Music tour is the first time Marianas Trench has branched out from the default stage design, adding a catwalk to each end of the stage. Playing off of the arcade-like sounds in the track, Toy Soldiers began with a faux video game start menu displayed on the screen, with the cursor selecting the song. During the song, a bra was thrown onto the catwalk Ramsay was on. He picked it up and swung it around, receiving loud cheers from the audience. This was a suitable move for the song, as Toy Soldiers was written about obsessive fans.
Ramsay stopped to talk to fans about his career moving from needing rides from family members at age thirteen to his gigs to headlining the Pacific Coliseum. He ended the story by asking fans if they wanted to hear the new single. The band commenced playing the soft but powerful By Now. After softening the mood, Marianas Trench invited opening acts Anami Vice and Down With Webster on stage to throw free merchandise into the audience, getting everyone pumped for what was to come. Webb, Ayley, and Casselman of Marianas Trench walked to centre stage and, in front of thousands of adoring fans, ripped their pants off to reveal briefs. Ramsay appeared on stage from a platform lift stripped down to only a shirt and briefs as well. The band performed Desperate Measures in these “costumes,” paying homage to the music video counterpart.
The band exited the stage for another segment of video interlude, and returned to the stage drumming on smaller-sized drums. Casselman was in Ramsay’s usual position on the stage playing drums that hung from his neck, while Ramsay was on the usual drum set. This was the transition into my personal favourite song, Truth or Dare, which I was very excited to hear live for the first time. This song portrays the band members’ vocal rhythm as a whole exceptionally well.
Ramsay paused to speak with the audience again, this time taking aim at local paper, The Georgia Straight, for Tim Craddock’s negative-rant-supposed-to-be-review of the band’s show in December 2010. Ramsay asked the audience, “How many of you guys out there have supported us since the beginning? P.S. if you’re here to review the show from The Georgia Straight, no, that doesn’t mean you, get the f**k out. Aside from the bigot b**ches at The Georgia Straight, how many of you guys are here to have a good time with us here tonight?” He continued on to say that Marianas Trench never would have made it to the Pacific Coliseum without fans telling their friends, requesting songs on the radio, requesting videos on MuchMusic, being all-around supportive, and “being the best fan base any band could ever hope to have.” The band proved they meant their words by having fans’ pictures play up on the screen behind them while performing their hit Beside You.
Then came the major fan service. During the band’s huge radio hits Celebrity Status and Haven’t Had Enough, the lead singer hopped down from the stage to do a long barricade walk, seeing as many fans as possible. This sent many fans in general admission into a tizzy. Hundreds of fans left their places on the floor to run to an available section of the barricade to briefly touch hands (or so I hope that was all) with their idol before he returned to the stage.
Once back on stage, some very lucky—but talented and deserving — fans from the Langley Fine Arts Choir joined the band for the tunes Fallout and Stutter. When the songs were finished, Ramsay thanked the choir and told them they are welcome to sing with the band any time (though I’m unsure how true that last bit is.)
Ramsay asked the audience how many of them have been around supporting the band since the club days. A large portion of the crowd cheered and Ramsay called them out on it by saying, “Yeah right, but it’s okay, I still love you.” He continued on with his point of posing the question, explaining that there is a “fifth member” of Marianas Trench, who co-wrote a song on their first album. Ramsay introduced Steve Marshall to the crowd, inviting him on stage to play Push, the song he co-wrote. This was a pleasant treat to the fans – new and old – to experience what a concert from the Fix Me era might be like.
Ramsay continued speaking with the audience once Marshall exited the stage. He spoke of how during the Fix Me era, CFOX-FM (99.3 The Fox) was the only station to play their songs. Ramsay said the rest of the country didn’t really care “Because it was like, the music that we were doing, it was like it was too pop for rock stations, but then it was too rock for pop stations. We were like, “dude, what the f**k?”” He attributed the band’s fame to MuchMusic for playing their music videos. In regards to beginning the process of writing their second album, he told his band mates, “Man, we need a radio song or we are f**king done.” He confessed to the fans that he holed himself up in a Kamloops hotel room to write the first single for Masterpiece Theatre, Cross My Heart.
During Cross My Heart, Ramsay asked fans to repeat singing after him, but he made the singing quite complicated a little over a minute into it and humorously stopped fans and ridiculed them for it. “I thought you guys were repeating after me, what the s**t happened there? Are you serious right now? Are you serious right now, this is Vancouver, this is our house, you got to respect that s**t.” He then tells the crowd he is going to simplify it and carries on singing the actual song with the audience, before jumping into the crowd to crowd surf seconds later. Once out of the crowd, Ramsay finished the song by belting out with ever-changing range and screaming the last word, “Cross my heart and hope to die.”
The band exists the stage again for another video interlude and returns to play their bittersweet, fan-beloved tune, Porcelain. As Ramsay sings the song from his heart (he wrote it for his girlfriend,) a guitar is lowered from the harness he came in on at the beginning of the show to him. When the song ends, the band leaves the stage again for a booming narrative video clip that tells the audience: “And now, we face the music.”
Ramsay returns alone for the beginning of the encore. He reminisces about playing gigs at clubs and being really good at playing songs by ear, and what he used to do was take requests from the audience at those small shows and give playing it his best. Now he explains that it is a good way to end a show, and he checks Twitter before the show to see which song fans want him to play, and he does it. He sits at his piano and plays a beautiful Ramsay-style rendition of A Drop in the Ocean by Ron Pope. Fans will know what I mean by “Ramsay-style,” but if you are not familiar with Marianas Trench, the easiest way to describe the lead singer’s form of singing is to imagine a singer using a remarkable number of notes in a single song. Ramsay transitioned from the cover to his band’s own song, Lover Dearest. I noticed several fans around me started crying, which is expected as this is probably Marianas Trench’s most powerful and beautiful song. Webb, Ayley, and Casselman joined Ramsay on stage part way through the song, finishing the masterpiece as a group.
The band then left the stage again for one final clip, before returning to play the amazing six and a half minute closer of the album, No Place Like Home. Part way through the song, Ramsay disappeared from his band mates and reappeared on the harness again with a guitar around his neck. He played part of the song hovering over the audience, before flipping upside down and staying in an upside down position whilst singing for twenty seconds. After touching the ground again and finishing the song, Marianas Trench bowed for the audience and disappeared via the platform lift for the last time.
This is easily the most high production Marianas Trench concert I have been to. They have come very far since I first saw them live not even three years ago. The band is extremely talented and they do not need the theatrics to make their performance great, but it does make the show very intriguing. They played off of the audience much more than any previous show, really trying to give their fans a great time. I have never seen a band more in unison with their band mates than Marianas Trench. Every member of the band has a great singing voice and that really comes in handy for quite a few of the group’s songs. This is my fourth time seeing Marianas Trench, but every time I go they always add in something new to keep their audience coming back for more the next time. I would recommend a Marianas Trench concert to anyone, they are a highly enjoyable group to watch and I cannot wait to see what they pull off next time.
See them. 4 out of 4
Opening video interlude
All to Myself
Princess Porcelain video interlude
Truth or Dare
Haven’t Had Enough
Push ft. Steve Marshall
Cross My Heart
Battle sequence video interlude
Face the Music video interlude
A Drop in the Ocean by Ron Pope piano solo cover
Finale video interlude
No Place Like Home