March 19, 2011 – Playing in London, Ontario is a homecoming for indie folk darling Basia Bulat; the singer attended the University of Western Ontario and wrote much of Oh, My Darling here as a student. Prior to interviewing her early last year, I was only passingly familiar with her music, but since then her albums have been on frequent rotation, and I was eager to see her in the live setting. Given her history with the city, it should come as no surprise that her performance at the Aeolian Hall this past Saturday was sold out. Although, having only been to the venue once before and arriving midway through the opening act of Daniel Isaiah, this writer wasn’t expecting such a turnout and had trouble finding a seat. Mind you, I was a bit surprised that the venue was seated in the first place, and felt a little underdressed amongst the generally older crowd.
Following a door prize draw (which seems to be a regular occurrence at the Aeolian), Basia Bulat appeared on stage to thunderous applause. Being my first non-bar show in quite some time, the atmosphere was decidedly different. For one thing, I could actually hear what was happening on stage without dealing with a layer of drunken chatter. The quiet, respectful, almost serene ambience was near church-like, and it lent itself perfectly to the music.
After the opening song, the full band came out to deliver a rousing rendition of ‘Heart of My Own’. Bulat’s set was filled with reminiscing about her time in the city, remarking about seeing the places she has lived and songs she has written. Two or three new songs were debuted, each featuring Bulat alone on guitar. She apologized for turning us into guinea pigs, but the new material was well-received. Bulat finally brought out the autoharp for ‘The Shore’, easily one of the highlights of the night. Following the set closing ‘Gold Rush’, Bulat was brought back to the stage for an encore with a standing ovation. She proceeded to play a Polish song which translated to ‘In the Green Zoo’. Being Polish myself, the ability to understand roughly every other word came in handy. The night ended with Basia and her backup singers performing ‘Before I Knew’, with the rest of the band returning for ‘I Was a Daughter’.
Though Basia Bulat has come a long way since her London days, it’s great to see that she still takes the time to return and play here. With two Polaris-nominated albums already under her belt, it’ll be a pleasure to hear what she comes up with next.
Tags: Basia Bulat