Get Your Tickets Early: An Evening with Bahamas and Jason Collett

25 10 2012

The fortunate few who gathered at St. Anne’s Auditorium on Tuesday night couldn’t help but feel pretty lucky. The auditorium, while beautiful, is incredibly small; last minute fans were left to scour the Internet, and the park surrounding St. Anne’s where Bahamas hid the two remaining tickets, for their chance to see the show. Unfortunately many were left out in the cold, but those who got their tickets early were generously rewarded to an intimate performance courtesy of not one but two of Canada’s premier acts without the drunken distractions that inevitably detract from any given show at any given bar. St. Anne’s Auditorium was the perfect venue for Bahamas and Collett because of, not in spite of, its size.

The evening began early with Jason Collett taking the marqueed stage all by his lonesome. Collett looks and sounds much different than he did last time he came through town. His quaffed curls have given way to long hair, and the themes of his beautifully melodic songs have changed rather drastically. While Collett played some older songs, most of his set consisted of selections from this year’s _Reckon_, whose direct and austere tracks seemed even more urgent in their live skin. Yes, the subject matter of many of Collett’s new songs is bleak, but the tone of his performance was impossibly light as Collett was obviously thrilled to join his old pal and former bandmate, Afie Jurvanen, on his tour across Canada. If Bahamas’ set was any indication, the thrill was mutual.

Bahamas’ live set is perfect: maybe it’s because the band has been touring for so long, maybe it’s because of the obvious chemistry between all four of the band’s member’s, or maybe its because they draw from such rich material; whatever it is, it would be impossible to conceive of a more refined and awe-inspiring live set. Though Jurvanen constantly reminded us that he and his band has only two albums of material to draw from, and while he was well aware that he paid us a visit a mere three months ago, his band’s performance was pitch-perfect. And keep in mind that this was the first show of their cross-Canada trek, by the time Bahamas reaches Winnipeg, much less Ontario, I’m willing to bet that they’ll prove the old axiom obsolete: Bahamas will improve upon perfection… with their Victoria show, they already have.

Barchords is as perfect an album can hope to be. A precious mixture of melancholy and joy, the album refuses a passive listen. The play count on my digital version of Barchords verges on triple digits, yet I still feel compelled to revisit it often. And still, Barchords’ songs are better live. If the studio versions of the songs lay elaborate blueprint well worth consideration and reconsideration, their live counterparts are a numinous finished product: precise gives way to even more precise while excitement steps aside to make room for an unparalleled spontaneous passion.

While it’s unfortunate that more people weren’t able to witness the fine mix of Collett coupled with Bahamas, perhaps that’s what made it even more special. Without the ambient noise and chatter generated by those who might have heard “Lost in the Light” on Much Music a couple of times, the songs of two future Canadian icons has room grow, leaving their silenced crowd utterly and completely captivated. For better or for worse, it is likely the last time we’ll be able to hear either act in a venue so small; get your tickets now.

–Nick Lyons


Another Side of Jason Collett

3 12 2010

Photo credit: Victor Tavares From the "Idols of Exile" photo sessions

I am pretty sure that if Zeus, or God or whoever, was motivated enough to make an attempt at incarnating Grace (with a capital “G”) into a human form, the result would look, walk and sing much like Jason Collett.  Grace incarnate came to our town on Saturday night to do a one-off, of sorts.  It was his second visit to our town this year, yet each performance was vastly different the other in almost every way.

Last time Collett came through, he brought a big ol’ crew with him, namely, Zeus and Bahamas.  I reviewed that show, and decided to “take this one off” and take it in without having to fully analyze it and put it into words.  Essentially, I just wanted to get drunk and have a good time without thinking about anything at all: Collett made that impossible, however and so, I write this.

It takes a lot of talent to hold a crowd’s (especially if that crowd is gathered in a bar) attention with only a guitar, microphone, glass of wine and, at times, harmonica at your disposal.  Some artists, such as Jeff Tweedy, when he decides to go it alone, have actually called their audience out on the chatter between and, even worse, during songs.  I’ve always felt, being an avid Dylan fan, it is up to the artist to quiet their venues dull roar.  Dylan could/can do this: his words seemingly hypnotizing the most rambunctious of crowds into silence.  Jason Collett can do it too: as we all were quick to find out this Saturday night.

Like Dylan, boots, tight pants and all, Collett transfixed his audience (sadly, of about only 100 people or so) immediately upon stepping to the stage.  It was an incredibly intimate show, partially due to the venue (Lucky Bar), but mostly because of Collett’s gracious and candid presence.  He shared stories about what had inspired the composition of some of his songs, most notably, my personal favorite, “Almost Summer”, before playing impeccable acoustic versions of his ever growing canon.  At times, when Collett paused to take a breath, or a sip of his red, red wine, I could hear the hum of the fans above the dance floor: I have never heard Lucky Bar, so deathly quiet.

But he made us laugh too: quite loudly, at that.  His stories about the tour and about growing up in Catholic School (both, from the sounds of it, difficult to endure, at times) were as polished as the wine glass sitting on the chair next to him.  A master story teller and an even better musician, Collett never once let go of the adoring gaze of those of us “Lucky” enough to be there.

I must admit, before I go on, that I was a bit worried about the show.  I have come to love Jason Collett’s new, collaborative album (he enlisted youngsters Zeus, to back him up on this one), Rat A Tat Tat so much, that I was kind of scared that hearing the stripped down versions of the songs would be disappointing, if not boring: they were not.  Instead, we were given the rare opportunity to see the seeds of these songs, seeds which, somehow, are every bit as beautiful as their eventual studio flowering.  The phrase, “singer songwriter” is often abused. I choose to reserve it for an elite group of folk such as Karen Dalton, Neil Young and, of course, Bobby himself and, if Saturday night told me anything, it was that Collett too, might be a more contemporary member of this distinguished party.

Upon finishing his encore, Collett immediately ran back to the merch Booth to autograph copies of his album and be hit on by the more courageous/intoxicated members of the audience.  Again, Collett was consummately graceful, smiling bashfully at all the attention he was receiving.  Some of us were bold enough to tell him about a show going on at Logan’s and he actually came out, trying impossibly to become invisible and get to know some of ‘our music’: again, he was swarmed, again, he was graceful.  It was really great to see someone handle himself so well.

We were spoiled this year, having seen two very different sides of Collett.  I think we were all pretty happy to find out that Jason has a brother out here, so hopefully we can expect to see him again soon: it will be interesting to see which Jason Collett shows up next time.  Until then, we spin our signed records and try to graft a bit of his seemingly infinite grace into our own lives.

— Nick Lyons

Look for upcoming reviews from Nick Lyons here at the Monday Mag blog and on our website. You can read his blog at

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