Show Review: Great Lake Swimmers Fill The Ark

Pop quiz: What Canadian indie bands have drawn the biggest crowds out of all the shows we've attended in the Detroit area?

There's no prize for the correct answer, so we'll make it easy: the New Pornographers and Sam Roberts Band (at the Crofoot Ballroom and St. Andrews Hall, respectively; they have approximately the same capacity-- around 1,000-- so we'll call it a tie). Now, think you can guess which one of the following was the next most well-attended show (all were near sell-outs): Hot Hot Heat, Destroyer (both in the Crofoot's Pike Room, capacity 250) or Great Lake Swimmers?

We wouldn't have guessed Great Lake Swimmers (GLS) either. But nearly 375 people (venue capacity) paid to see them at The Ark in Ann Arbor on Thurs., Aug. 25. Why the great turnout? The Toronto-based GLS is a perfect fit for The Ark's folk-centric programming and they've played there before, so Ann Arbor's musically cultured community shared our appreciation-- objectivity be damned-- for a band making some of the most beautiful folk music on the planet.

It's a complete package lead singer/songwriter Tony Dekker has been refining for almost 10 years. Poetic lyrics full of evocative imagery set to gorgeous melodies, Dekker's floating tenor and a supporting score tuned to the great key from GLS' current lineup-- Eric Arnesen, Bret Higgins, Miranda Mulholland and Greg Millson. Within the 17-song set in a rare soft-seat setting for N2D, we were treated to a sampler from GLS' four LPs plus a generous preview of the follow-up, due sometime in 2012, to the Polaris short-listed Lost Channels (2009). In general we like to see bands put a little different spin on their established sound/catalog. In the case of GLS, we didn't hear any need for improvement.

Photos: Russ Gordon/N2D Images