There was no shivering in the Fredericton Playhouse Tuesday night, as Juno Award-winning Bahamas kicked off the 2018 installment of Shivering Songs with a warm, charming performance that mixed old favourites with songs off his upcoming release, Earthtones.
Frontman Afie Jurvanen stood confident yet casual centrestage, engaging in delightfully-loose mid-song banter about the joys of Maritime radio and wishing a happy birthday to a front-row audience member.
The Playhouse is an ideal venue for a show like this: cozy and romantic, it provides a special intimacy between performer and crowd, which Jurvanen seemed to take full advantage of. With the soft amber glow (earthtones, indeed!) of the onstage lights backing the band, the performance felt like it was taking place in the living room of an old family home.
Looking through the crowd before the show, I noticed many familiar faces—colleagues and classmates; people I’ve previously profiled for The Bruns—all of which lent the evening a special air. Like the best events, a true sense of “community” seemed to form, which, when combined with the anticipation palpably buzzing through the theatre, gave the evening that rare, “You had to be there” quality so often lacking today.
The show was opened by The Weather Station, who delivered a set of mellow and moody tunes that would be an ideal soundtrack for a rainy Sunday spent curled up with a mug of something hot as the window turns foggy and damp (which I mean as a high compliment). Their songs rang clear through the room, not overwhelming and yet captivating. They were certainly a worthy introduction.
That said, it was clear many had come for Bahamas, as the crowd eagerly applauded the dimming of the lights, signalling his arrival. Greeting the audience from offstage over the loudspeakers, his voice ringing out like a podcast, Jurvanen set the relaxed, unpretentious tone of the performance to come.
He tore through classics of his back catalogue with his stellar band, the bass and drums locked in tight, the lead guitarist providing piercing leads that Jurvanen himself frequently echoed and a co-vocalist offering high harmonies to round out the five-piece’s full spectrum of sound.
The band was in particularly fine form on the new tracks, which were presented with a joyful energy, suggesting that the group truly believes in the new material and is eager to share it with their fanbase. One of the more successful of the new numbers, “Opening Act (The Shooby Dooby Song)” saw Jurvanen and his bandmates repeatedly hit a particular note, in unison, then stop to allow the frontman to engage with the crowd in a witty exchange. The extended bit provided genuine comedic relief, and offered a nice contrast to some of his slower and more serious material. Meanwhile, another standout new track, “No Depression,” inspired an audience clap-along. Although Jurvanen warned the crowd the song was long and the previous night’s Saint John audience had been unable to continue the clap throughout the entire tune, the Playhouse crowd proved their endurance by providing a steady accompaniment for the song’s full duration.
Despite the successful embrace of the new material, many fans were eager to hear their old favourites, with several members of the crowd repeatedly shouting out requests for “All The Time,” perhaps his biggest hit. Never one to disappoint, the band delivered the song during the encore—a custom which Jurvanen amusingly pointed out the silly, unnecessary-but-obligatory nature of—and, after wrapping up a song later, left the stage to a standing ovation, the audience’s spirits as warmed as the band’s moniker might suggest.