Arts concert review

Rhye at Royale

A lush rendition of the last year’s musical sensation

6614 rhyecon
Rhye performed most of the songs from their album Woman last Thursday at Boston’s Royale.


Opening Act: Ricky Eat Acid

Royale Boston

8.00 p.m.

Feb. 20, 2013

It’s been almost a year since the Canadian-Danish duo Rhye released their critically acclaimed debut album Woman. Despite the lack of any new official material, lead singer Milosh paid a visit to Boston with his touring band last week and performed most of the album’s songs.

The concert took place at Royale, which was probably not the best venue for a show of such an intimate and delicate character. The studio version of Rhye’s music already sounds very mellow and downtempo, so the live performance required absolute focus from the audience. For a Boston crowd oriented toward a more lively show, this request took some time to process. Nevertheless, the fans finally settled down, and that’s when the band got the opportunity to truly bring their talents to the forefront.

While the studio versions of the songs put more emphasis on Milosh’s characteristic contralto voice, the live performance successfully unveiled another one of Rhye’s assets — the music itself. The talented ensemble of musicians who accompanied Milosh gave the music of the debut album a different flavor. For instance, “Last Dance” featured an extended instrumental section and ended with a hypnotizing trombone solo, an experiment not explored by the album’s version of the song. Overall, the performance shifted focus from the vocals-oriented nature of Rhye’s music to the mesmerizing instrumental solos and improvisations.

This is not to say that the vocals were subpar — in fact, they added another captivating dimension to the live performance. The musicians also served as backing vocalists whose voices perfectly complemented the androgynous spirit of Milosh’s voice. Their consonance was highlighted during the ensemble’s vocal harmonies like those at the end of “Shed Some Blood,” when Milosh and the band united their voices in the numbing a cappella outro of the song, which consisted of fading repetitions of the line “Move my way.”

Putting a face to Rhye was also a fascinating experience. Unlike the studio version — where Milosh’s persona was mostly identified as highly sensual — the live performance featured a different alter ego. In a way, his stage persona resembled that of a teenager who was just coming out of his shell. There was nothing unpretentious about his vocal and musical delivery — his words were concise and sincere, his control of stage space and movements was unplanned, and his communication with his band was vividly heartfelt, which added to the subtle feeling of innocence and fragility.

Whether the instrumental additions to the songs are a trademark of Rhye’s performances or simply included because Rhye has only one album, the band’s renditions were truly enjoyable. While the audience was too energetic at the beginning, the atmosphere successfully converged on a relaxed tone in the middle of the show. In fact, at the end of the concert, there was a moment of perfection when Milosh and the band stepped away from the microphones and sang their lines together in front of the completely silent Royale.