Thursday, May 18, 2006

We Will Still Write A Review


"He could have shat in the middle of the stage, then threw it at me, and I'd have still asked for an encore," was my comment when leaving the Bronson Centre the night of May 8, following a two hour performance by my own personal rock God, Hawksley Workman.

It's incredibly naive to think that you can write an objective review of a concert or album by someone you've idolized for several years, so I won't. I will say, though, after the second encore, which consisted of the Upper-Canadian troubadour sitting cross-legged on the front of the stage with a banjo and leading a sing-along of 'We Will Still Need A Song', you would be hard pressed to find someone who left that show unmoved.

So, after acknowledging the fact that Hawksley can do very little wrong in my books, "review" might not be the right term for this piece. Let's go with "observations and comments on Hawksley's latest stop in Ottawa".

After canceling a number of shows in March due to illness, Workman is back from touring in Australia to make up the missed Ontario dates. In contrast to his last tour with his band The Wolves behind him, Workman is gracing the stage with lone accompanist, Mr Lonely, to promote his latest album, Treeful of Starling. The simple staging - Workman seated under a spotlight with Mr Lonely behind a piano, created an intimate atmosphere for the 800 fans in attendance.

Adding to the intimacy were Workman's lengthy inter-song rambles about seemingly whatever popped into his mind. Topics that were covered included his crush on Canadian Governor General, Michaelle Jean, making snowmobile tea and how he wasn't getting paid for these long interstitials. I found them endearing, and an interesting look into the artsy mind of Workman, but casual fans may have found them unnecessary.

The pared down performance allowed Workman a lot of room to play with his work. His live version of 'Anger As Beauty' is drawn out several minutes, with a break of The Tragically Hip's 'Blow At High Dough' popping up in the middle, while 'Safe and Sound' allows Workman to show off with a banjo solo. Workman uses his live performance as an opportunity to realize his music, whatever potential he sees, and the audience hangs on every beat.

The voice, the chit chat, the setting, —this was my dream concert, and was worth the two month wait. So, the point of this post isn't necessarily to convince you to run out to a Hawksley Workman show (though I would) but, you know that artist you'd give your right arm to see? The one where your expectations are so high that it can't possibly be that good? It can, but maybe only for you.

Hawksley Workman - Safe and Sound (Live)
Hawksley Workman - Your Naked Body on the Beach (Live)
Hawksley Workman - Lust (Live)

Check Out Mel's all Workman podcast at radio@upei where she expresses further ambivalent opinions on the artist.

Comments on "We Will Still Write A Review"


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (19/5/06 7:53 pm) : 

listened to the podcast - v. nice.


Blogger cait (still queen) said ... (19/5/06 8:33 pm) : 

hawksley did a free lunchtime gig at my uni bar last year, i'd never heard of him (australia missed out baby) but i loved it. went and had a chat to him after, great guy. love to see him again.


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