Live On Locke
Melrose United Church 86 Homewood Avenue
I’m a huge fan of Madeline Wilson’s Front Room Entertainment and everything they do – Madeline is one of my favourite movers and shakers in our local music scene. Thanks to her phenomenal booking skills and impeccable taste in music, Live On Locke is in its impressive fifth year. Surprisingly, it was my first year attending the concert series. No time like the present!
I Heart Hamilton came on board as a supporter of Live On Locke and we’re giving away a pair of tickets to each one. Upcoming shows include Matthew Barber & Jill Barber (Oct. 7 – win tickets!), Lee Harvey Osmond (Oct. 21), and Wintersleep (Dec. 2). Check here for each contest, or don’t press your luck and go buy tickets. These shows tend to sell out and the first one, featuring Bahamas and Jason Collett, was no exception.
If you have the chance to check out a show in a church, do it. As Afie Jurvanen of Bahamas joked during his set: “It’s almost like this place was designed with sound in mind.” It always sounds stunning, and Hamilton is rich with beautiful spaces like Melrose United. Let’s make sure they last.
First, Madeline granted me with the honour of going up onstage to welcome everyone, thank the sponsors, and introduce the musicians. Proceeds from the series go toward Hamilton Music Collective‘s An Instrument For Every Child program, which is fantastic, and a fitting partnership for the series.
Jason Collett was a new addition to the lineup and a great one – he and Afie have been playing together for years. The two shared kind words for each other during their respective sets – Jason noting that Afie produced his latest album. Afie recalled his early meetings with Jason and expressed how special it is to still be on the same bills, ten years later, sharing both stages and hotels. “We’re sharing a room tonight, Afie and I,” Jason deadpanned to a giggling audience.
Jason played an enjoyable set and the audience met him warmly. He really made us laugh with a story of young love and an embarrassing school dance incident. Both the music and the funny banter set the tone well for Afie to follow.
If you’ve been following (and why wouldn’t you be!) you’ll know I recently said that Jeremy Fisher delivered the most entertaining stage banter I had heard in a long time, during his set at this year’s Harvest Picnic. Bahamas’ Afie just topped that. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a musician be that funny onstage; it was so unexpected. Speaking of Harvest Picnic, that was the last time I saw Bahamas (in 2015), so I knew we were in for incredible musicianship. Perhaps the intimate setting of this show let Afie feel in the mood for being more conversational and silly. As if the man isn’t already enough of a dreamboat, turns out he’s also hilarious. Let the swoonfest begin.
Afie opened with the beautiful “I Got You Babe,” which was received warmly by the room. “So that’s basically the show,” he said, which was met with laughter. “That’s what I have prepared for the next hour or so,” he continued. “I hope it’s to your liking.” And ohhh, rest assured, Afie, it was.
I was fortunate to see Afie back during the 2015 JUNO Awards when they were held here in Hamilton. I was seated in the press room where we saw him fresh off his JUNO win. At the time, he and his wife had just welcomed baby. During this set, he talked about working on his new record, and they are expecting another little one very soon.
Speaking of Hamilton, Afie later mentioned taking a walk around the neighbourhood before the show and grabbing some dinner nearby. “You’ve got it figured out here, don’t ya?” he said of the city. During his set earlier, Jason also noted the amount of musicians, peers of theirs, who are moving from Toronto to Hamilton. Maybe they will be the next? Join us, fellas!
Afie was in full swing right from the start: “I’m feeling good… I just did a little jig” he said after finishing a song. He later went off on a tangent about these real estate videos from a particular website that he has become obsessed with watching, mimicking the narrator’s voice and having the whole audience in stitches. You had to be there. “Gee I’m talking a lot tonight,” he said with a huge grin. “Not what you paid for.” (Cue more audience laugher)
We were also treated to a couple of new tunes – one even had some crowd participation, as he asked us to join in on the 1950s-sounding “shoo-be-doo-be” refrain. I look forward to hearing the new album, if that was any indication of where it’s headed.
Encores are pretty standard at shows now and typically to be expected. Afie made no attempt at a mock goodbye, acknowledging that he was about to play one more song, then leave the stage, and was coming right back for a couple tunes, which was again met with chuckles from the audience. Returning to the stage, he let us know he’d be playing the piano. A piano had been centre stage for the show, and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who wondered if he would give it a whirl. The audience response when he finished at the piano was the loudest and warmest applause yet.
Before wrapping up with one more song on guitar, Afie took out a penny whistle and played a theme from Lord of the Rings. Just another unexpected and hilarious moment from his set. He finished with a little sway and held up the penny whistle while turning around in a circle. “Holy smokes, that sounded sweet” he said, before sticking the instrument in his back pocket and picking up his guitar. Afie ended with another favourite, “All the Time,” which was met with a standing ovation and a real goodbye this time.
Oh, man, that was a fun one. Live On Locke is off to an amazing start. See you back at Melrose this Friday, October 7th for the next one – enter our contest to score two tickets!