Going to Sackville Music Hall, the dilapidated shell that apparently once was a great performance venue, was an interesting experience.
It was here that people gathered last Saturday for one of the first concerts of the year, featuring Joel Carr, Corey Isenor and, returning from a cross-Canada tour, Pat LePoidevin.
Since its peak, the Hall has been left in a state of disrepair with obvious signs of aging all around. There was probably space for at least a couple hundred in a standing crowd, but the official capacity was 80, which I was glad of because the floors didn’t seem able to sustain many more. There were plastic lawn chairs set up facing a stage, with the odd inclusion of an upside-down milk crate and a lamp. Light bulbs were hanging over the stage from what could have been an extension cord.
Joel Carr was first up. His music was reminiscent of Bob Dylan before he became famous. The lyrics were somewhat relatable though not all that catchy, but that was the point. Carr's first spoken words were: “Well this is a creepy place, eh?” It was.
The songs flowed more freely after Carr warmed up, but everybody was reminded that it wasn’t a professional show with the words “I’ll probably forget a few verses here.”
It was all in all a good warm-up act, but by the seventh song, the crowd seemed ready for something new.
One audience member commented that Carr "really nailed that E chord... over and over again.”
Corey Isenor was up next. His first song was a slow one about getting his baby to stop taking it slow – a seemingly contrary combination. For the rest of the performance, Isenor played songs with different guitar tunings, causing multiple abrupt breaks between otherwise quality tunes. The songs increased in energy and the mood became more relaxed, with one member of the audience shouting, “That better be water in there,” when Isenor drank from a water bottle between songs.
There were some issues with remembering words mid-song and tuning, but the overall mood and quality of the show was as I expected. Despite minor mishaps, leading Isenor to say that he “should have practiced more,” he is clearly a talented musician, and in another circumstance his performance may be improved.
Last, but absolutely not least, was Pat LePoidevin. After warming up on the ukulele, and singing about a fox drinking wine outside a bar in France, he wasted no time in leading the crowd with "Car Crash." As with many performances, the audience sang along knowingly. "Toumba, Texas" was up next, with more people joining in for the catchy chorus. LePoidevin had some new material which fit well with his established set list. He continued with songs from from his CD, including "What about the Mouse," "The Bird and the Basement," "Cancer," and "Ringo the Rat."
Pat LePoidevin has grown noticeably as a musician; at this show he seemed much more at ease and comfortable with the audience than in past performances I’ve seen. He was very well prepared, and his connection with the audience put him another step ahead of the opening acts. Overall, Pat’s performance was excellent. Sackville is fortunate to have a musician of Pat LePoidevin’s quality. I’ve seen him play three times and can’t wait until he comes back again.