When a show starts with a career-spanning piano medley, you know you’re in for a different kind of concert. You also get the idea that whatever the pianist’s covering there won’t make another appearance.
Both were true of Hawksley Workman’s March 19 show at Darke Hall.
The show started for the sold-out crowd at a little after 9 p.m., and wouldn’t let up until just about two and half hours later.
After the piano intro, Hawksley took the stage, bouncing around and already showcasing his incredibly-versatile singing voice while not being one for sustained guitar playing. That would change, as he got deeper into his new material.
This was probably best illustrated when he left the stage for a costume change, coming back in a sequined jumpsuit and big, industrial ear protectors. That’s when shit got loud and when his wild solos came out.
Hawksley and his band did an impressive job at reinterpreting some of his older tunes, which weren’t numerous in the set but were prominent. Most notable was the version of “Lethal and Young,” the closer for his 2001 disc, (Last Night We Were) The Delicious Wolves. They used it to close out the main set before the two encores, and turned into an anthem of Queen proportions. And Hawksley has one of the few voices that truly pull that off.
Some audience came at least in part for Hawksley’s idiosyncratic stage manner. His stories were long and would weave in and out of each other, covering topics like the pop hit that never was, the show he missed in Europe due to a fear of planes, and how the crowd felt “respectful.” An abbreviated cover of Prince’s “Raspberry Beret” didn’t hurt his quirky tone, either.
This was part of the Regina Folk Festival Concert Series. Before the show began, RFF artistic director Sandra Butel mentioned that they had a tough time booking Darke Hall, and then people should let the University of Regina know how happy they were to see a show there. It’s a real shame that that’s the case – Darke Hall, from atmosphere to acoustics, is one of Regina’s most distinctive venues. Hopefully, the RFF can put more shows on there.