Saturday, April 08, 2006

Churchful of Hawksley
Hawksley Workman, spectacular musical odd-ball, filled Knox United Church on Thursday night, literally and figuratively. Every available pew had a bum squeezed into it, and the belfry reverberated with the power of Hawksley's enormous voice.
I had seen Hawksley perform at the Calgary Folk Festival last year, so I knew the kind of power that his performances hold. I had been dazzled by his flamboyant showmanship then, by the spell that he holds over an audience, but I wasn't sure how that was going to translate from the laisse-faire attitude of a folk festival (the last bastion of hippiedom) to a sacred space like a church.
I needn't have worried.
With no opening act, the show began with several songs from his new cd Treeful of Starling. Accompanied by his faithful pianist, Mr. Lonely, Hawksley sat quietly with an acoustic guitar, and in true troubadour style, performed songs like A Moth is Not a Butterfly, Ice Age, and You and the Candles, all of them heartbreakingly lovely and introspective. I vowed right there I was buying that cd first chance I got.
And then, ditching the chair, switching to an electric guitar, but without even removing any clothes, the troubadour was transformed into the sassy cabaret performer. Guitar perched jauntily on one hip, he launched into No Sissies and we went wild.
From that point on, the show was vintage Hawksley Workman, an almost indescribable mix of rock concert, cabaret, performance art and what can only be described as a glimpse into the odd mind of Hawksley Workman. There were snippets of the Tragically Hip incorporated into songs, as well as I think it was Queen, and even bits of Bjork's Hyper Ballad, along with an extended explanation of the critical contribution of chair testing toward fueling the economy. And then just when you think that Hawksley has lost it, he manages to bring it all back around to where he left off. The man has impressive comedic timing, really.
Some highlights include him climbing on a chair to sing Striptease while playing casinets (yes, Stephanie - he did play Striptease in church, And Tarantulove! And Paper Shoes!), an absolutely smoking rendition of Jealous of Your Cigarette, a version of Anger as Beauty which went off onto a strange but oddly effective tangent, Smoke Baby, and, the song which had been stuck in my head all that day - Safe and Sound.
And if that weren't enough, he then played two encores. This review does not begin to do this performance justice. It's very difficult to begin the describe Hawksley Workman's music to someone who is unfamiliar with it. The closest I can come, I think, is to say that he is an artist.
Eva took pics and I will be posting them here when we get our computer back. In the meantime, I'm going out to buy Treeful of Starling, because it is absolutely beautiful.


Barbara said...

So glad you had a great time. I am happy that you and Eva can share this love of music together. So many mothers and daughters don't have that.
Speaking of a tree full of starlings. What did you do about your woodpecker problems? (Or is that too personal a question?)

Stephanie said...

DUN DUN Striptease in the Church
I'm all smiles hearing about that Barbara!

Anonymous said...

Excellent review, you make every concert you go to sound like live poetry. Have you ever been to a bad concert?

Looking forward to the pictures after the nasty shit is removed from your computer!

Ben Heller said...

What a great review Barbara. Anyone would think you quite enjoyed the show LOL. You should post it on his website.

Conky said...

u rock. u should write for a paper

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Barbara W, I am so blessed to have such a great kid who will actually let her mom tag along. I already dread the thought of her moving out.
The woodpeckers have been silent lately, but Jen's birder friend suggested putting up a woodpecker house, which we will try.

Stephanie, I thought of you immediately when I heard "in a house by the tracks..." It was great!

Aww, Michelle, you are too sweet! Most concerts I really really want to see, so it's hard to disappoint me. Although Melissa Auf Der Maur was pretty hard to listen to.
I'm really tempted to go see Jello Biafra do spoken word tomorrow night, but I am too burned out.

Thanks Ben! Do you think I was guilty of superlative abuse? I can get carried away sometimes.
I'll have to check out Hawksley's website to see if he invites reviews. Great idea.

Thanks Jen! You rock way harder though! Know any newspapers that need writers? Cause I'm more than willing.

Sean S. said...

that only made me doubly excited for tonight here in Saskatoon....thankfully it will be in Convocation Hall (seats!) an not the stupid campus bar.....gonna line up early to get a good seat!


Barbara Bruederlin said...

Sean, I hope you get a great show! We actually had reserved seats but I think we may have fared better with rush seats. Good luck with getting excellent seats.

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