Live Review: Aidan Knight @ The Rio Theatre – October 27th 2012

I have never been to the Rio Theatre. The way the sign was lit with burnt bulbs contrasted by the neon red, it illuminated the raindrops that cascaded down the windows. On the corner of Commercial and Broadway, a small crowd was gathering beneath the fading beacon.

Aidan Knight has sort of become a home town hero of sorts; he’s the icon music lovers on the west coast claim as their own and cherish. Every time he’s gone out on tour, we have welcomed him back with open arms, basking in every moment of glee the sneaks onto his face and being bewildered by his immense talent. Ever since Versicolour came out in 2010, it feels there have been more and more departures coupled with heartwarming returns for the west coast troubadour.

Knight, being the caring person he is, brought two musicians he respected and loved on tour with him. Andy Shauf, from Regina, Saskatchewan, started the night and was, in a word, mellow. Extremely calming and quiet with a hint of small town charisma, Shauf charmed the audience by himself on stage. Though he was engaging, his song writing ability seemed undermined by being by his lonesome; his sound seemed to be somewhat flat, but he certainly showed the talent to create deep compositions. Laid back and creative, Shauf showed great promise, but he could certainly benefit from fleshing his sound out with some more instrumentation and harmonies.

The second opening act was Leif Vollebekk and he proved to be one of the biggest surprises of the night. The amount of raw musical talent he had was nothing short of shocking; the guitar parts were complicated and intricate coupled with raspy, pitch perfect vocals. Each song he played was another step into a richer sound. Using loops minimally, Vollebekk was able to create a sound seemingly larger than the one man on stage. Unarguably, his ability to pair such complex music with beautiful story telling is rare talent reminiscent of the Tallest Man on Earth.

Knight’s reception was warm after starting the show with a brief cinematic. Immediately it felt like he was taller, broader, more mature. There were still glimpses of a boyish smile, but it was evident that a different individual was standing in front of us than the one who gained immense popularity with Versicolour in 2010. Aidan Knight and company recorded their latest album, Small Reveal, as a group this time around as opposed to Knight working things out by himself. The new songs he played proved this to be extremely beneficial to his overall sound as each song felt draped in a silky cohesiveness.

Knight’s set was pleasantly long clocking about an hour and a half. His collection of songs was well varied and maintained a good flow. Even his older material was reworked and modified to keep things fresh and entertaining.

I believe this goes back to what I mentioned before about Knight appearing much different on stage. As a musician and song writer, he’s truly fearless when it comes to exploration. With what was once a great backing band becoming a cohesive band, they’ve gone into new territory and taken parts that have sounded impossible to work with and made pleasing songs out of them.

It was great seeing Aidan Knight and company show smiles when they realized just how good their songs sounded and doing what comes so naturally to them. Tickets for the show weren’t even expensive with the price at the door being a mere $20. As Knight continues to tour and build up his repertoire, it only increases anticipation for what comes next for the budding artist. If his transition from Versicolour to Small Reveal is any indication, Knight is on track to write some incredibly special material, songs that exceed is current work in immense ways. It’s no wonder we on the west coast reach out to him and claim as our own with his endearing charm and intricate song writing. Even if you are not a fan of him, it’s worth checking him out when he’s playing just to see how special a show featuring a local artist can be.

Photos © Lara Bannister

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