Jill Barber live in Vancouver, BC at the Vogue Theatre

* photographed by Chelsea Chernobyl

Those that settled in their seats at The Vogue Theatre last night in Vancouver were unlike any I had seen gathered in one place in this city before. It was a heart warming mix of couples, mothers and daughters, grandparents and their grown up grandchildren. In an age where one can make a hit single using keyboards and sounds produced from a computer, the 50 years plus crowd at the Jill Barber performance seemed to indicate her choice to remain classic.

As her band commenced the opener, the title track from her album released in 2008, Chances, Jill made her swift entrance onto the stage. Wearing a knee-length strapless black cocktail dress, and glamourous hair styled into an up-do, it was easy to understand how she was able to claim the heart of CBC radio’s Grant Lawrence. I am sure he has made an unremarkable amount of men jealous.

Mischievous Moon, the title track on her newly released album, followed as the next rendition. With a voice as beautifully unique as ever, Jill was expressing arm and hand movements with the grace of a ballerina, yet unfortunately a little stiff.

In a recent interview we had with Jill, she said her strategy is to win over a fan at a time, something she succeeds very well at. The way she spoke to the audience in between songs gave the night a comedic, small town flair, using her music and personal life to draw on. This girl’s got wit. She presents herself in a relatable, vulnerable way, which immediately makes you feel like you’ve known her forever.

Never Quit Loving You, and Be My Man were next on the set. By this time Jill had become completely uninhibited, with a naturally playful tone and movements to match, and mischievous smirks between her vocals. Her performance became more personal at this point, as the intentions behind every word became apparent.

For an artist known nation-wide, Jill is charmingly modest. It was refreshing to see and hear about the level of appreciation she has for her band, which are from the Canadian music capital of Toronto. While most solo artists are placed well ahead on stage with their band playing in the darkness behind them, hers surrounded her, and what wonderful musicians they were to watch. For Jill’s A Wish Under My Pillow, Drew Jereka’s old school whistling solo garnered a well deserved booming round of applause.

The only dips in the night, were the performances of You Took Me By Surprise, and If It Weren’t for Loving You; Two songs from Mischievous Moon which have struggled to receive good reviews so far. I felt guilty about concurring. The first fits well as the soundtrack in an elevator, and the latter tries too hard to be Parisian. The Caribbean style keyboarding and maracas used in You Took Me By Surprise seemed out of line with the rest of the evening, and weren’t as enjoyable or refreshing as I had wished.

The progression into the closing song of the show was choreographed like a crime musical. Her story telling monologue was followed by a clapping beat, and flowed dramatically into her most popular song off her album, Oh My My. The experience was involving, and became interactive when she led different sections of the audience to sing separate parts of the lyrics. This worked well considering older folks seem to love to sing. What could’ve easily been borderline corny, was instead sentimental, and the urge to jump out of my seat and start dancing was fought back with much effort. I suddenly felt like I was in my hometown once again.

A well deserved standing ovation was made by the crowd that had just been swept off their feet. Old school charm, a beautifully unique voice, a sassy wit, modesty, and vulnerability; the sultry singer-songwriter was a success in bringing all of her best traits into the performance in her new hometown of Vancouver. She is truly a refreshing sight in the scene today, and I would urge anyone who hasn’t experienced her live to make an effort to do so soon.

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