Having been fans of Trent Severn since their debut self-titled 2012 album release, it would take several years before we had an opportunity to see them live. Indeed, it was on a whim last year when Trent Severn announced their participation in the 2017 Home County Music Festival (London, ON) that we finally made plans to see this trio once and for all. Catching up with Emm Gryner, Dayna Manning and Lindsay Schindler at this event gave us two consecutive nights of their live music, plus an early afternoon workshop with two thirds of the band. The ladies rocked both the small stages and the main stage during this festival, but as is typical for this type of event, they were restricted to a pretty short and tight schedule. While we left loving what we heard, we knew that a further date with this trio was an absolute must.
Fast forward a few weeks and we saw Trent Severn listed on the 2017-18 concert schedule for the Burlington Performing Arts Center. There was no way that we could miss out on this show, and tickets were promptly purchased. Making the drive up to Canada last Friday, we arrived at the venue prior to the show and happened to bump into Dayna Manning. After some quick pleasantries, we wished her a great show and went to grab some much needed food and beverages before the show.
Feeling replenished and raring to go, we made our way into the venue and took our seats front and center of the stage. Following a brief introduction from the event host, Trent Severn, dressed in their signature ‘plaid’ (along with percussionist Stephen Szczesniak), were introduced to the stage. Drawing upon material from all three of their albums, the trio would perform 15 tracks split across two sets, with a brief intermission for a meet and greet opportunity. As an additional bonus, the ladies would follow the show with a ‘Q&A’ segment where they would field random questions from the audience.
Opting to start with material from their debut album, Dayna Manning would take the lead vocal duties and kick off with “Road Less Travelled.” Emm Gryner would follow suit, and step up to the microphone for one of their earliest hits, “Bluenose On A Dime.” As was to be expected, the lead vocal duties would be split respectively between Dayna and Emm for the entire show (one day hopefully Lindsay will be encouraged to take a lead, although she is clearly comfortable with her amazing harmonies and her mastery of the violin). Progressing to their sophomore “Trillium” album, Dayna would pay tribute to William Lishman, the Canadian who “taught the geese to fly south for winter,” before performing “From Canada.” Staying with this album, Emm would perform “Goodbye Sadness,” prefacing the song with tales of her part-Irish ancestry and of missing good friends from across the Atlantic.
Splitting two more tracks from their 2017 album “Portage,” Dayna would take the ‘extra’ track during the first set and enlighten the audience with tales of her times in Northern British Columbia, where she first encountered “Charlie Lake” and the spiritual connection that now remains with her. This would be the only track performed that is not (currently) on a Trent Severn album. Having seen Dayna perform this earlier this year, we were certainly more than happy to experience this wonderful tune again. Adding a brief (if slightly understated) “dance-off” midway through the set, the first half of the show was complete and the trio would go on to meet fans and friends in the main concourse.
Returning for the second set with some new ‘plaid’, Dayna once again took the lead on “Newfoundman,” complete with the tale of how she met her boyfriend during the festival season, and is now managing the long distance relationship between Ontario and Newfoundland. As we head into winter, no Trent Severn concert would be complete without references to this season, and three snow-laced tracks followed in succession. Emm would lead with “Nil Visibility,” before sharing vocals with Dayna on “Snowy Soul.” Dayna would then round out this ode to wintry weather with her rendition of “O Snow.” And with this recognition that the ‘cold’ is not far away, Trent Severn made sure to dismiss such thoughts with a pair of their most upbeat tracks.
Inviting their friend Sean Leahy (“not again,” he exclaimed from the back of the room when invited) onto the stage to choreograph the audience participation, the trio belted out their summer hit “Eh Canada.” The popularity and momentum from this track would be repeated with the choice of song to close the show; the always lively foot-stomping number “Stealin’ Syrup” (loosely based upon the great Maple Syrup heist of 2012 and sung from the perspective of ‘the thieves’). Exiting the stage to a well-deserved ovation from the packed out studio, the trio would return for a brief encore. Returning full circle to their debut album, Trent Severn closed the evening with a great version of “Freedom.” The “Q&A” session followed shortly afterwards, with all three members accepting questions and providing wonderful insights with their answers.
When you write and perform songs with a strong emphasis on Canadian life and heritage, Trent Severn are naturally going to plant seeds for the onset of winter, with the inevitability of shorter days, plummeting temperatures and snow. However, a ninety minute show with this trio offers such warm and wonderful music to wash away such depressing thoughts, as they wrap you up in plaid shirts, seat you next to a roaring fireplace and share hot coffee and chocolate with you. For one evening in Burlington, Emm, Dayna and Lindsay once again provided that perfect counter-punch to the season that lies ahead.
Trent Severn Set List:
- Road Less Travelled
- Bluenose On A Dime
- From Canada
- Goodbye Sadness
- Charlie Lake
- Save Me
- Nil Visibility
- Snowy Soul
- O Snow
- Eh Canada
- Take Me Back
- Stealin’ Syrup