Bry Webb & the Providers at Massey Hall; Saturday May 31, 2014

To cap off my return from Sasquatch! 2014, I celebrated by seeing another concert!

Because of my mega trip, I figured I had missed most if not all of the Live at Massey Hall concert series. If you’re unfamiliar, the concert series is in celebration of Massey Hall’s presence in Toronto. Opened up in 1894, tickets for this series went for a whopping $18.94. The concert series featured a number of artists that wouldn’t usually headline a Massey Hall gig. For some reason, Coeur de Pirate was the headliner for this gig, I’m not sure why. I guess she potentially has a larger fan base than Bry Webb’s solo project. I didn’t stay for the French-Canadian gem, although I have seen and enjoyed her gigs before. Apparently, her set was filled with covers – no surprise there and no doubt she did it well.

A bit slow to the pick up, I only got into Bry Webb and his band the Constantines with the release of Webb’s first solo album Provider. A friend had nudged Shine a Light in my direction a few years back and I didn’t think much of it. Shortly after moving to Guelph, Bry Webb’s hometown and current residence, I developed a strong affinity for all things Bry Webb. I saw Julie Doiron a few times over the years and noticed Constantines keyboard player Will Kidman was playing drums with Julie. I also noticed Constantines drummer Nathan Lawlr on stage with Webb as a part of his band the Providers. With all the music flowing through the members of the Constantines, it’s no surprise that the band is rekindling their live gig at Field Trip this weekend.

Webb’s solo stuff is slow, but warm and I could easily see many Constantines fans dipping off the band’s radar upon first listen. However for a easy evening listen, Webb’s raspy vocals add a beautiful depth to the tunes. I’ve seen Webb now three times, my favourite being at a small guitar shop in Guelph. Massey Hall was a delightful change, however I had good seats, I couldn’t imagine enjoying the gig from way up in Massey Hall’s gallery seats.

Being close to Bry Webb’s slow, soothing tunes is an essential, whereas I’m sure I’ll wanna be further back for the Cons this weekend. Webb’s on stage demeanour is a bit flat, which I assume is in part how he carries himself. His music, while very slow, is actually quite pleasant. His solo effort has largely been inspired by his family and love for them, particularly his little peanut, Asa. Many of his tunes reflect his changed role into fatherhood – “Asa” from Provider and the tune “Translator” off of Free Will, which he wrote as a lullaby for his son.

This was the first time that I’ve seen Webb with such a full line up. His band The Providers is comprised of five players, which create a surprising full, but soft sound, which certainly does not over power. Their sound offers a lovely folk-country twang with one pedal steel and lap steel guitars and for added eloquence and upright bass – all one very lovely combination.

Webb announced that this gig served as an “album release gig,” which was more timing than it was planned as such. As someone that likes the familiar at a live gig, I was delighted to hear many of his tunes from his 2012 album performed and to a very large extent re-visioned with his new outfit.

This will however be my favourite video clip of Bry Webb that was filmed in his kitchen!!!!

See y’all at Field Trip this weekend!

You can also catch a few more acts as a part of the Live at Massey Hall concert series – Great Lake Swimmers and The Rural Alberta Advantage on July 8 and Basia Bulat and Destroyer on July 10. And if you can’t get to any of the gigs, 30-minute concert series will be released of each event. Get jazzed.

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