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SLCR #260: Hayden (September 29, 2016)

Two things to start, based on your feedback:

1. On my quest to hit 40 concerts in my 40th year, this show was concert #31. I saw Fred Eaglesmith on Saturday, so that was #32. My roadmap to #40 is set, though there could always be shows cancelled/skipped or new shows added:

UPCOMING CONCERTS, INSERTED EARLY IN THE REVIEW AS VALUABLE FILLER
• Basia Bulat w/Oh Pep! (October 5)
• I Mother Earth featuring Edwin w/The Standstills (October 8)
• BreakOut West (October 14-16)
• Sarah Slean and the Regina Symphony Orchestra (October 22)
• Bush w/The Dead Deads (October 27)
• Steve Earle & The Dukes (November 3)
• Bif Naked w/Jordan Alexander (November 8)
• Duotang (December 2)

2. Dang, you people really don’t like Prozzäk. I totally get it, but I listen to a lot of garbage and that was the first review in a long time that stirred up quite so much outrage. Like, just at its very existence. And they’re not even entirely real.

I have very little to say about Hayden (“he’s good, you’d like him”) so I will tell the same story I tell every time. I first saw him in 1998, but I was tired and not into the show so I wound up leaving early. For many years, I thought Hayden wasn’t my thing. In 2013 he played the Regina Folk Festival which gave me an easy opportunity to give the guy a second chance, and I was really impressed. Last year, he opened for Dan Mangan and was great. And this was a great show too, so never listen to 22-year-olds. They’re sleepy and dumb.

Anyway. I bought our tickets for this show before they technically went on sale. The show was announced on a Tuesday with tickets going on sale that Friday, but I guessed that he was coming here and found the ticket selling page while it was being finalized and hadn’t been properly locked down yet. I was very pleased with myself for a day and then promptly forgot about it. Ultimately, it didn’t matter, as I don’t think the Artesian quite sold out, though it was close. Mika and I sat in the back with Mark and Arlette, and Mark and I reminisced about all the shows we’d seen there that he never took Arlette to.

There was no opening act, and Hayden had no band with him. The songs were just him and guitar or piano. And yeah, like I already said, this was great.

This was the 20th anniversary tour for his debut album, Everything I Long For, so he was playing it in its entirety. Sort of. Until the show, I didn’t realize that I had never heard the whole thing. In between songs, he encouraged questions and one person asked which version of the album we were getting. It turns out the first release had two songs (“Bunkbed” and “I Almost Cried”) that were left off subsequent editions because he was never happy with them. Apparently Bunkbed is one of the more popular songs to longtime fans. Mika says it’s good. She thinks she has a copy of the original release tucked away somewhere, so I may have to dig it up. Or, you know, I’m sure it’s on YouTube, which requires significantly less movement from my current butt-seated position. I’ll look someday, probably.

(*this is secret Master Persuader wizardry that will hypnotize Aaron into looking it up for me; I am very smart and handsome and can tell the future)

Not only have I not heard Bunkbed (or I Almost Cried, which nobody seemed to notice/care was missing), but I had also never heard the hidden tracks from the original release. They played as Hayden first took the stage and tuned his guitar; ad-libbed joke recipes for Kraft Dinner and a frozen-lettuce club sandwich. It didn’t sound like most people there recognized them but they were enjoyed just the same.

There was one song he said he didn’t perform often due to requiring a second person’s help, so he recruited a fan from the front row and didn’t tell her beforehand what she’d need to do. It turned out that he wanted someone who didn’t play guitar to play guitar. She seemed equal parts excited and mortified by the situation she found herself in, which, yeah, that’s fair. It wasn’t anything too complicated so he walked her through it and it was a fun break in the show.

Pretty much, the show was just him playing through the album. I dunno what else to tell you. I’ve heard the record and enjoyed it but am not so familiar with it that I could tell you what he changed up, if anything, apart from knowing that he skipped the song Driveway due to finding the lyrics stupid and not worth bothering with.

He did add on a few extra songs at the end, including No Happy Birthday, which always gets me right in the feels. And he played two covers as well; The Garage by Eric’s Trip came partway through the set (I only know this because Mika knows things and sometimes tells them to me) and he closed the main set with a cover of Ahead By A Century by the Tragically Hip. In a summer (shut up it’s not snowing YOU’RE SNOWING) of Hip covers, this was one of the best. Just Hayden and a piano, a great arrangement that brought out both the regret and the hope in the song.

And that’s it, really. Not the longest or most elaborate show, just an entertaining and enjoyable evening from a guy who makes me into more of a fan every time out.

Hayden – Moving Careful

The Taranna Was Hot Series: Part 3/25

Boil it down, I really like Hayden’s work. Albums like The Closer I Get (1998), and Everything I Long For (2000) were a big part of the mid-to-late 90s for me (and a lot of us). I was even fortunate to catch him in concert once, on the second stage at the big Pearl Jam show we saw in Barrie in 1998. Hayden played a great set, I loved it.

This 7-track Ep came before those other records I mentioned, in 1996, but really they’re all a part of the early years of his career. His was a sound that drew you in. This disc could be a demo… it sounds like every other dude with a 4-track in his bedroom, but it has a true heart, and a langorous view of the world passing slowly in front of his eyes. It has that appreciation for the smaller things, that careful approach to everything that, to some, might seem like making precious things that are not, but in the right mood it just feels right and brilliant. In another way, it’s like Tom Waits, in that it sounds like it might fall apart at any moment, yet instead it all holds together and you realize the genius in this sort of playing.

One song from this disc, Stride, also appears on The Closer I Get. Here, it is acoustic with slight effects. On the album, it’s got a bit more electronics and a cleaner sound, but by and large the song remains unchanged. Probably my favourite track here is Old Fashioned Way, it’s just great storytelling, and so quintessentially Hayden.

Also, I scavenged this from a review of this disc on Amazon, and kudos to the author, they nailed it: “songs in which the mundane is clarified into poignancy, the ordinary distilled to its tragic essence, and the everyday exposed as the ineffable and the amazing.”

Exactly.

I found this in BMV in the 3-for$10 bin. A total score.

Hayden – The Closer I Get

Another gem found in the 3 For $10 bin on my annual trip to Toronto with Mike.

I love this CD for just drifting off. Hayden, to me, has always had this sonorous quality that, when mixed with his great songwriting and lyrics, has an oddly calming effect on me. This may not have been his intention, but there it is.

These are solid, quirky, folk indie rock songs. no one else sounds like Hayden, to me, nor should they.

You may know, of all the songs here, one called The Hazards Of Sitting Under Palm Trees. But when you hear the record, you’ll feel like you’ve heard them all before, an old friend who’s welcome at your place any time.

Thinking back now, I think it was on tour for this record that we saw him in concert. We went to see Pearl Jam in Barrie in 1998, and Hayden was one of the second stage acts. He was great!

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