This Wednesday night (September 22nd) I had the pleasure of seeing Bri-Anne Swan, a Toronto singer-writer (you can read our review of her album here), begin her Birthday Series of concerts with a tribute to Leonard Cohen.
To quickly explain the Birthday Series of concerts, it is a set of shows spaced out between now and next August which pay tribute to famous musicians, with the show being on their birthday. Her next planned show is in honour of Tom Waits, and will be performed on December 7th.
Over the course of two hours, with one break, Swan, along with the backup of three other band members playing keyboards, bass, mandolin, electric and accordion (not all at the same time, of course) played a great selection of one of Canada’s most famous and talented songwriters.
Swan did her best to represent Cohen in all phases of his career, and she did a really great job of this. She began her set with “Suzanne” and ended her set with “Hey, That’s No Way to Say Goodbye.” She played other great songs such as “Hallelujah” and “So Long Marianne.”
There were two things I absolutely loved about the show. The first was her and her band’s dedication to the music. While it’s really easy to take a tribute show lightly, it’s very obvious that Swan and her band put a lot of time and effort into crafting their sound to its perfection. Every strummed guitar chord seemed to have a purpose.
The second thing I loved was her absolutely pure voice. Much like her instruments, her voice never missed a note, whether she was reaching high or low on the register. In fact, listening to her at times gave me chills.
Over the night, she did sing one new song of her own called “We All Fall Down” from her next album, and “Dear Sir” from her debut These Are All My Friends… She also gave a sneak preview of her next show with a song by Tom Waits.
Swan also provided some good banter in between songs, at one point saying “So I’m drinking tea on stage, because that’s the kind of rock star I am.”
Overall it was a very enjoyable evening, and it seems like Swan is doing a really great good thing with this Birthday Series. For more information on the series you can go to this page.