Halifax Pop Explosion:: Joel Plaskett Solo Acoustic

Since the five days of the 15th Halifax Pop Explosion were essentially like worshipping at the alter of indie rock, both Canadian and otherwise, it seemed to make sense that we actually spent some time in a church on the last night of the festival. Well maybe that doesn't actually make sense, and perhaps it might even be blasphemous, but either way we got to see a great show. I don't think I'd ever been in St. Mathew's United church, but it's a beautiful old building and it was a great place to see Toronto's Forest City Lovers, Fredericton's David Myles, and the main event, Halifax's musical man of the hour, Joel Plaskett.

Despite the rather miserable, rainy weather, by the time Ack and I arrived at the church at about 15 minutes after the doors were due to open, there was still a long line stretching down Barrington street. It was a long line, so it certainly seemed like we'd be grabbing a seat in a very back pew, but happily we were able to slide in about 5 or 6 rows back on the left hand side of the makeshift stage at the front of the church. We had great view, or we did, until some huge headed dude and his bald homie slid into the pew in front of us. I have to say, we ended up behind some huge craniums during the festival, so this wasn't overly surprising.

I don't mind admitting that I knew essentially nothing about the Forest City Lovers before seeing them, but this 2 girl, 2 boy outfit was rather enjoyable. They play a rather hushed brand of indie pop which is keyed by the vocals and guitar work of Kat Burns who is joined by Mika Posen (violin), Kyle Donnelly (bass), and Paul Weadick (drums). I sense the band is fairly new, so Kat's banter was a little on the shy side, but the still-damp crowd was very appreciative of their set and I know a couple people near us bought their album at the merch table, so it's safe to say they made some fans. Plus they brought pumpkins from the Wolfville farmer's market, so that's also a bonus.

David Myles was on next, and although his set was abbreviated, I thought he did a great job. I've written about David on the hill a few times before, but this was the first time I'd seen him live. He's certainly a personable and engaging guy on stage as his banter in between songs was pretty extensive. It was entertaining though (case in point: his story of seeing Randy Bachman play Takin' Care Of Business for 18 minutes and getting the audience hyped by using every permutation possible to deliver the chorus), so I don't think anyone had an issue with it. One of the things I liked about David's debut, Things Have Changed, was the "full-band" treatment he gave to his songs which made each song really interesting. Obviously that sound couldn't be replicated when David was onstage alone with a guitar, but it wasn't an issue as his voice has more than enough character to keep things interesting on it's own. I'm assuming it was an attempt to keep on schedule, but David only got to play about 5 songs, ending with a great version of When it Comes My Turn. The brevity of the set was unfortunate, but as Costanza knows, leaving them wanting more is always a solid plan, and David certainly did that.

After a bit of a delay, the man the crowd turned out to see made his appearance onstage in a blue-ish/teal western shirt and some slim-fitting blue jeans. The western shirt was explained by the fact that Joel flew back to Halifax from Dallas (Where He & The Emergency were opening for The Tragically Hip) earlier that day. Very early it would seem, as Joel mentioned a number of times that he'd been up since 5AM. So he was tired, but he certainly seemed happy to be back in Halifax, and also happy to be playing at St. Mathews, a church he visited as a youngster with his grandparents.

He also seemed eager to please, as he launched into the Halifax crowd pleaser Love This Town as his second song. He also took things back to the old school when he played Thrush Hermit's Before You Leave as an homage to his history at the Explosion. I wouldn't have been surprised if Joel had played the ole "I flew in from Dallas at 5am and so I'm cutting this performance short" card and played a relatively short set, but as I mentioned in my review of his Alderney Landing show from the summer, he certainly likes to give the hometown folks their moneys worth. And that he did, playing for at least an hour and a half, giving the loud, annoying college kids behind us more than enough time to finish the coolers they brought in. Honestly, if you're reading this kids, you are very, very annoying. Harsh words, I know, but certainly deserved.

Anyway, I thought Joel did a great job. He treated the crowd to some new songs, he took to the piano for a few songs (a rarity for him), and he brought his father Bill onstage for a few songs. He finished up with some fun versions of the bigger songs from Ashtray Rock like Drunk Teenagers and Fashionable People. The crowd was certainly appreciative when he finished and I think the evening certainly lived up to it's billing as one of the Pop Explosion's marquee shows.

Video:: David Myles - Love Again (Live @ St. Mathew's Church

Video:: David Myles - When It Comes My Turn (Live @ St. Mathew's Church

MP3:: Forest City Lovers - Orphans (Live @ St. Mathew's Church)

MP3:: David Myles - Love Again (Live @ St. Mathew's Church)

MP3:: David Myles - When It Comes My Turn (Live @ St. Mathew's Church)

MP3:: Joel Plaskett - Happen Now (Live @ St Mathew's Church)

Forest City Lovers

David Myles

Joel Plaskett

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