– By Cristina Dirlea
This November has been busy for Newfoundland’s Hey Rosetta! who have been performing almost every single day in support of their latest album Second Sight. During this North American tour they were joined by BC’s Yukon Blonde, thereby exporting a double dose of solid Canadian music.
Massey Hall is not your typical indie music venue. Firstly, because it doesn’t smell like stale beer and secondly, because the red velvet wall linings and carpets make you want to take your shoes off just to be polite. Have you ever been to an indie concert where an usher lights your way to your seat and calls you “ma’am”? Maybe I’ve spent too much time in dive bars.
Yukon Blonde, who recently performed a short but sweet set at The Edge’s CASBY awards, started off the evening with some new tunes from their latest album On Blonde. The new songs have an added layer of synth-based sound that doesn’t detract from their big rock drums or catchy guitar riffs. Rather, this element emphasizes the musical evolution of the band. Halfway through their set, they encouraged the shy crowd to stand up and dance, and a sold out venue happily did so. The audience got pumped just in time for the special treat – Hannah Georgas’ appearance to sing one of their most popular songs, “Saturday Night!”
Hey Rosetta!’s seven members walked on stage unassumingly to thunderous applause and cheers from an excited crowd ready to sing along, sway, or let melancholy take over, in tune with the emotional subtleties of the band’s sound. Like most of their songs, the opening tune “Promise” hovers between sadness and timid hope, answering critics who measure success in monetary units. “We got nothing in our pockets but thin wrists and promise, we got promise,” the echo of a new generation’s growing desire to seek happiness in simple things rather than the eternal rat race.
Irrespective of what moved each individual, a feeling of unity and elation kept the crowd clapping throughout the entire performance. Singer-songwriter Tim Baker’s attempt to say “Thank you” was drowned out by applause and cheers that continued between songs and even during some instrumental solos. That’s how well the crowd knew their beloved band.
Hey Rosetta!’s trademark stage set-up of scattered Edison light bulbs added a stripped-down feel to their performance, as well as literally emanating heat. The septet’s instrumental make up goes beyond just guitar, bass and drums, adding an orchestral feel with keys, cello, violin, trumpet, and French horn, a sound that’s well suited to the incredible acoustics of the venue. At times, the entire venue went dark and a yellow spotlight illuminated a single performer during an instrumental solo, further enhancing the intimate atmosphere.
Baker shared the inspiration or the meaning of his songs, such as the fact that “Soft Offering (For the Oft Suffering)” was written during a moment of inspiration at 5 or 6 am, while “Alcatraz” dealt with “incarceration of any kind,” thereby offering a rare glimpse into the artistic process.
During the encore, Yukon Blonde joined Hey Rosetta! on stage for their patriotic anti-Harper song “Land You Love” and it became clear how close the members of both bands had become while touring together. Knowing smiles were exchanged, while sincere happiness became evident during the prolonged heartfelt hugs. These moving moments would have been the perfect end to this dreamy Friday night. Although highly anticipated and fun, “Welcome” and the cover of “Stand by Me” failed to energize the crowd as much as at other performances and, as such, would have been better suited at the beginning of the encore. Nonetheless, Hey Rosetta! dazzled the audience with excellent musicianship and earnest dedication that radiated from the stage.
November 20, 2015
Photos by Véronique Giguère – https://www.facebook.com/veroniquegiguerephotography