Our most recent musical excursion to Ontario ended with a return visit to London, and a stop at The Aeolian Hall; always one of our favorite venues for catching a live show. On this particular Saturday evening, Jill Barber was in town for her second consecutive show at this prestigious old hall. And having only previously seen Jill live during the “Family Album” tour with her brother Matthew, we were excited to have this opportunity for hearing her solo works as part of this “Metaphora” new album tour.
Applauded onto the stage by the Aeolian Hall faithful, the room was literally dazzled by Jill’s custom-made costume. “I promise that no disco balls were harmed in the making of this outfit,” joked Jill, as her band took their positions alongside her on stage. And what a strong supporting cast indeed, featuring Robbie Grunwald (keyboards), Liz Stringer (guitars), Bryan Kobayakawa (bass) and Morgan Doctor (percussion). This talented ensemble would share thirteen tracks spanning Jill’s entire career, and with plenty of emphasis on the most recent project, before returning for a final encore number to close out the evening in London and the first half of her cross-country tour. “I’m flying home to Vancouver tomorrow to take my kids to a party,” explained Jill. “Just one day, and then off to Winnipeg for the western portion of this tour.”
With “Metaphora,” Jill Barber has once again redefined her musical identity; one that has already woven multiple sounds and genres together over the course of her career. From her folk roots, and through her later smooth jazz and French language albums, Jill has never been a stagnant performing artist. Thus we were not too surprised to learn that her brand new material not only sees her embracing a more up-tempo pop sound, but also tackles some issues that remain very close to her heart. Whether simply writing a song of love as a thank you to a certain Mr. Lawrence (“Love Is”), or dedicating those that have found the courage to stand up to both bullies and personal demons (“Bigger Than You”), Jill was happy to engage the audience with the personal inspirations behind these new songs.
Other new tracks included “Mercy,” performed at the piano alongside Grunwald, and of course, the first single from the album, the anthemic “Girl’s Gotta Do.” Adding some timeless favorites into the mix, Jill would of course take the opportunity to celebrate the 10th anniversary of her “Chances” album, performing both the title track and “Never Quit Loving You;” which saw her schmooze with the audience out on the floor, “looking for couples that I can serenade.” The addition of her French language “Petite Fleur” was an absolute delight, as were both the early tracks, “Measures & Scales” and “Legacy,” duly dedicated to the audience as ‘patrons of the arts.’
Obviously very comfortable out on the floor amongst the crowd, Jill returned to the floor to close the show with one of her most popular hits, returning to the “Chances” album for an incredibly rousing version of “Oh My My.” And as the song wound to a close, Jill had already exited the room, leaving her band to jam a little before rejoining them on stage for their final bows. Eliciting a strong response from the audience, all five would naturally return for a final number, opting to stay with the “Chances” material and ending with the closing track from that album, “One More Time.” Cue the final bows once more, the farewells from the band, and the raising of the lights to signal the end of the evening.
Combining the artistic talent of Jill Barber with the great atmosphere always experienced at The Aeolian Hall made for a fantastic show. Even with the challenges faced by Liz Stringer courtesy of a defective guitar cable early into the show, she compensated well with her acoustic guitar, and we were happy to meet her once again and offer her props for such adjustments made on the fly. It was also a pleasure to have the opportunity to converse a little with Jill Barber, and we wished her well with her crazy next 48 hours, and trust that she had a wonderful time seeing her family (no matter how briefly), before jetting back off to share her recommence her tour once more. A great time in London, and a great finale to our three day weekend of live music with one of Canada’s finest.
- The Woman
- Love Is
- Bigger Than You
- Petite Fleur
- Never Quit Loving You
- Clumsy Heart
- Measures & Scales
- Cage Without A Key
- Girl’s Gotta Do
- Oh My My
- One More Time