Sat 29 Mar – Hawksley Workman
My background with Hawksley goes like this:
I have this cousin (whom we will refer to only as M.) who is a major supremo volunteer at the Winnipeg Folk Festival and has been for the last 11 years. She is a real music lover/appreciator (like myself), and volunteers at the festival only because she truly loves music. So last year, at my birthday, M and her brother (who will be known as I.) informed me that they were giving me a ticket to a Hawksley Workman concert as their gift. I was excited...well, actually, I tried to be polite and appear excited, but in fact I had never heard anything from him except the song "jealous of your cigarette
" that was played on Much Music a few times. And its not that I didn't like the song, I just didn't like the chorus. Sooo, going from that knowledge only, I was a little unsure of what I was getting myself into when they picked me up at my apartment to go to the concert that night.
I got there, and we're sitting in the first balcony (apparently a traditional spot for my cousins, as they had been to 6 or 7 concerts put on by Hawksley), waiting patiently because his set started late (apparently another tradition), and I was starting to get excited as my cousins talked animatedly about how much they loved his music and how much they knew I was going to like it.
The show starts, and no lie, I was completely blown away. No other way to describe it, and I am not exaggerating. It was the year he did an acoustic/unplugged show, and it was completely amazing. He always puts so much of himself into everything he sings, so much emotion. Some of his songs, as I found out that night, were MADE to be played on a darkened stage with only Hawksley Workman, Mr. Lonely, a piano, and an electric guitar.
So I just got out of the concert this year (as you can probably guess, I am now a HUGE fan), and as always it was amazing. As I was listening and watching, I was trying to come up with an appropriate way to describe a Hawksley Workman concert. All I could come up with was that, no matter if you have heard the material before, there is something about seeing him perform live that makes each song sound new, like you'd never heard it before, the same feeling I had at that concert nearly one year ago.
But (and yes, there is unfortunately a but), I wasn't as impressed as I was last year. The beginning of the concert was the way it had been last year except maybe a bit darker (only candles illuminated the stage because of the "Earth Hour" that was being observed across the world) and that was really nice. Hearing him play You and the Candles in that ambience was awesome. But, he only played like that for half an hour, till Earth Hour was over, and then he and the band moved to their instruments. And, some songs, in particular "Don't Be Crushed" are, in my opinion, not to be played with a band. It just didn't have the same emotion as it did last year. None of the songs did. The only song that made me glad he was playing with a full fiddle, bass guitar, electric guitar, drum, piano, tambourine band was when he played "Addicted
" and "The City Is A Drag
." But otherwise, in my opinion, I preferred last year.
One thing that I was really really really disappointed with was the fact that the megaphone was hardly used. Like only used once, in the whole 2 hour 40 min set. Very sad about that.
When I told M my opinion, all she did was shake her head at me and said "You can't even compare them." And all I said to her was "Yes I can, and I liked last year better." She said I had been spoiled by last year's performance, but my opinion is that Hawksley wrote those songs to be enjoyed in the dark with the bare minimums. And songs should be performed the way they were meant to be heard.
Some high points of the concert: the beginning acoustic performance of three (?) songs; the use of the baby grand piano and mini drum set purchased at toad hall in downtown winnipeg; the 'Addicted' performance in the green coveralls; the spur-of-the-moment decision that he would 'buy' the Burt (aka The Burton Cummings Theatre); and the random story told in the middle of everything upon request from an audience member.
Oh, and by the way, the 'Half Crazy' part I referred to in the title was his performance of Addicted, where he started talking about trying on shoes and sucking on toes or something. Completely random, but at least it made everyone laugh.