Classically trained U of O alumni give solid performance

 Photo by Tara Mahoney

Jacquie Neville was a blur of rainbow light at The Balconies’ Nov. 22 concert at Canterbury High School in Elmvale Acres.

Guitar slung over her shoulder, Neville’s moves were a combination of sharp, swift leg pops, jazz hands, sweeping arm wind-ups, and lunges. It was all punctuated with a colourful feather extension that followed her long, black hair as she whipped her mane back and forth.

This rare vision of a strong, talented female owning her guitar like another limb is how every girl envisions  a female rocker, and I bet I wasn’t the only onlooker wishing to be as cool as she is.

The audience’s focus was undoubtedly on Neville for 95 per cent of the show, and The Balconies know it. Stephen Neville, the bassist and Jacquie Neville’s younger brother, said they’ve been trying to use her captivating showmanship to “its full potential.”

“She still rocks out on the guitar,” he said, but the current arrangement gives her the opportunity to focus on controlling the microphone. It’s an extremely effective tactic and the crowd danced along with her through the entire performance.

Their sound has transformed slightly in the past few years, from a more indie-rock sound to what Stephen describes as, “Alternative rock—it’s more edgy than before, it’s louder.”

One of the most fascinating things about this sound is that all the members of The Balconies, save the drummer, are classically trained musicians.

“Classical music shaped the way we adapted to things,” Stephen said.

He’s a graduate of the strings program at Canterbury High School and a music student under professor David Currie at the University of Ottawa. Liam Jaeger, the guitarist, has a master’s in classical guitar, and Jacquie Neville is a graduate of the music programs at Canterbury High School and the U of O.

As a U of O alumnus, Stephen Neville’s most valuable piece of advice for up-and-coming student musicians is to “be open-minded and interested in what other people are doing.”

The band has been touring nonstop since September 2012, including four trips to Europe, and they have one more show in Mississauga before they take some time off. You can be sure that their break will be short but sweet, as they piece together their next tour pending the release of their new album Fast Motions early next year.