Live Review: Tokyo Police Club @ Union Stage — 11/20/21

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A full house greets Tokyo Police Club at Union Stage on Nov. 20, 2021. (Photo by Mickey McCarter)

Happy and relaxed, vocalist Dave Monks beamed at the capacity audience at Union Stage in DC recently, wrapping a tour that celebrated 10 years of his band Tokyo Police Club’s sophomore album, Champ.

Dave had a lot to be happy about and the jangly, singalong songs of Champ set the perfect mood for celebration on the last night of a North American tour.

On Nov. 20, the Canadian quartet showed up at the peak of their musical prowess — Dave on bass, Graham Wright on guitar and keys, Josh Hook on guitar, and Greg Alsop on drums. From my perspective at stage left, Graham dazzled with showboating guitar swoops and a sizzling synth that added pizzazz to Tokyo Police Club’s sweet string-dominated euphony.

Mop-haired and lean, Dave carried an expressive countenance that was the perfect vehicle for songs about relationships (“Wait Up [Boots of Danger]”), communication challenges (“Bambi”), and acceptance (“Frankenstein”). Tokyo Police Club paced through the 11 songs on the original issue of Champ with easy confidence, and the audience responded with smiles and applause all around. It went by much too quickly for our tastes!

Watch the official music video for “Bambi” by Tokyo Police Club on YouTube:

In a pleasant surprise, Tokyo Police Club broke for intermission and Dave returned alone for a solo acoustic set of four songs that lent themselves well to the troubadour treatment. The mini-set included fan-favorite “Ready to Win” from 2018’s TPC, which critics have called a return to Champ’s impulsiveness, and “Love” from Dave’s brand-new solo EP, Change Your Mind. The solo number was a worthy inclusion; Dave’s surefooted but roaming voice delivered perfectly in the song’s description of a perilous journey that offers a worthy reward.

The full band returned for another four songs and a two-number encore, hitting both “Top Five!,” a newly recorded demo written during the Champ era, and of course the encore’s “Your English Is Good,” still perhaps Tokyo Police Club’s best-known number although it dates all the way back to their 2008 debut, Elephant Shell. Well, if it’s not their best known, it’s certainly their catchiest and rowdiest, and most likely to inspire faux moshing and shouting to the lyrics — which it most certainly and euphorically did at Union Stage.

Come back soon, Tokyo Police Club! There’s plenty more to celebrate with this quartet and their skill at crafting earworms.

Here are some photos of Tokyo Police Club at Union Stage on Nov. 20, 2021.

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