Hello Kelly at Lee’s Palace

I had a chance to both see and interview Hello Kelly in Toronto at Lee’s Palace last Friday. Hello Kelly had its beginnings in 2004 with the release of their EP, Modern Day Nostalgia. Many changes have taken place with the band line-up over those intervening years, but the pop rock feel to the music remains the same. It’s been said that every single person in Ontario has seen HK play at least once. This was time number twelve for me to see the band and they didn’t disappoint.

You’ll be able to hear the complete interview with Hello Kelly on a future broadcast of The Antidote.

The audience at Lee’s Palace spanned not decades, but generations. Fans ranging in age from late teens to early ’70’s, were actively singing along with the band during their numbers. I’ve often said that Hello Kelly has an appeal from tweens, to Mom and Dad’s, to Grandma and her dog.

Hello Kelly’s only original member is lead vocalist and guitarist Francois Goudreault. He’s been joined by Travis Wilbourn on guitar and vocals, George Wong on bass and vocals, and Ben Mahaffey on drums, over the past two years.

Hello Kelly bounded onto stage with their opener Pressure & Poison from the new (EASYFORYOUTOSAY) album. To me this is the outstanding track on the album.

Song two, “The Communication Breakdown”, is a particularly poignant song for HK’s lead vocalist. It recounts Francy’s trials of having a fairly severe stutter that makes it difficult for him to speak in public. However he carries his vocal abilities on with extreme clarity on stage. I asked him about the difficult role he has been cast. To respond it was necessary to text one of his band-mates and for them to read it back to me.

Next up was a cover of the Cutting Crew song “(I Just) Died In Your Arms Tonight”. It wasn’t a surprise to hear a cover. Even though Hello Kelly has a wealth of their own material to draw on, they will often cover other bands music such as Tom Petty.

The performance of the new song “Brighter Days” came with a bit of a shock. I didn’t even recognize this extended version of the song. The band took the pop/rock song to the extreme, giving it an angst edge and almost psychedelic rock flavour. Francy delivered the final verse with falsetto vocals. HK should pursue this avenue, as they handled it with acute ability.

“Better Now Together” had the audience participating in the refrain:

Hey, here we go, here we go again
Scream our lungs out forever
Hey, here we go, here we go again
We’re better now together

Even though Hello Kelly was not the headline band, they took the stage back for an encore with a song from The Modern Day Fades Away. “Favourite Arcade” has always been a crowd pleaser and it didn’t fail this time either.

HK can no longer play Ontario venues with their past frequency as they now call Nashville home. If you get the chance check them out. A great band to see live and don’t forget to ask for a sweaty group hug after the show.

Find out more about Hello Kelly here

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