Jill Barber warms up Aeolian Hall

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Jill Barber

Gazette File Photo

JILL COULD SEE JACK FALLING DOWN THE HILL, BUT REFUSED TO COME TUMBLING AFTER. Singer-songwriter Jill Barber delighted an older crowd with a set of original songs on Sunday night at Aeolian Hall.

Sultry songstress Jill Barber played at Aeolian Hall Sunday afternoon and provided a classy cure to the February blahs. London’s frigid temperature was no match for the good-hearted warmth of Barber as she sang one feel-good love song after another. Barber, a self-described “hopeful romantic,” combines playful, sexy songwriting with a wholesome image that harks back to a time that has long passed.

A Mississauga native, Barber is a contemporary chanteuse with old-fashioned sensibility. Her set mainly drew on songs from her latest album, Chances, which sounds like it could have been recorded in the midst of pop music’s Golden Age. Barber certainly looked the part; she wore a blue 1950s-inspired “sweetheart swing” dress with black polka dots. She opened the show with the album’s title track, a song about the life-changing role that chance plays in the game of love.

Barber’s past romances provided the basis for many of the afternoon’s songs. With her tongue firmly in cheek, Barber told the crowd, “I fall in love easily, which is great for songwriting.” She proceeded to dedicate the nostalgic song, “Old Flame,” to all of the men she has ever loved. Prior to breaking for the intermission, she belted out the catchy break-up song, “I’m Leaving You.”

The album Chances is polished and crisp, but Jill Barber’s voice sounds even better live, in part due to the great acoustics of Aeolian Hall. The beautiful concert hall on the east side of the city provided the perfect venue for Barber and her supporting musicians. They skillfully played a variety of classical instruments including the grand piano, clarinet, double bass, violin and even the occasional banjo.

Aeolian Hall has been the focus of some industry buzz recently because of its top 10 finish in a recent online poll conducted by CBC Radio to find the best music club in Canada. A crowd of about 200 people came out to their favourite live music venue, but no Western students were anywhere to be found. Regardless, the more mature crowd was enamoured with this talented singer-songwriter. The crowd laughed at her jokes and sang along during “Oh My My,” a song that had Barber slapping her knees and snapping her fingers.

The crowd was thoroughly impressed with the show and gave Jill Barber a standing ovation. When she came back on stage to perform the encore song, “One More Time,” she stated how, “I’ve always felt London was a very romantic place.” Aeolian Hall is definitely romantic and heart-melter Jill Barber was certainly in her element.

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