When Hey Rosetta! broke up a few years back, to say I was sad was an understatement. They were among my favourites, and always blew me away with their live shows. A few times even overshadowing the band they were opening for. So when frontman Tim Baker announced his solo album Forever Overhead, and subsequent Vancouver stop on his tour, I was equal parts excited (for the new music) and nervous (it wouldn’t live up to the full band).
Sadly I missed both opening acts, Titus Calderbank and Charlotte Cornfield, getting to the Commodore just before Tim Baker took the stage, joined by his backing band. He started off on the piano with a couple songs from the new album, including the melancholic “Dance”, before jumping to guitar, and even banjo, rotating through the three instruments throughout the night. His unmatched voice went from emotionally fragile lows to passionate soaring highs on songs like “Pools” and the absolutely heartwrenching piano-driven lament “The Eighteenth Hole”. Baker also brought out some Hey Rosetta! favourites, with stripped down versions of “Welcome”, which sent chills throughout, even without everyone singing along; the breathtaking “Bandages”; and the deep cut “Red Song”.
Near the end of the set he invited a few people on stage for the appropriately named “All Hands”, including Charlotte Cornfield, members of Yukon Blonde & Said the Whale, and Dan Mangan, who all lent their pipes to backup vocals — Mangan even taking over for a verse. Baker joked that for some reason, they still had a song after that, ending the main set with “Don’t Let Me Go Yet”, another apt song which was written in the waning days of Hey Rosetta.
Of course, he was out for the encore moments later, taking the piano once again for “Two Mirrors”, which featured one of my favourite (but weirdly specific and somewhat rare) things to see live. Halfway through the song, Baker lost his place simply because he was so surprised at the audience singing along. The song was so new, and it had never happened before, he said, before quickly regained himself and nailing the rest of the song. Finally, he finished off with another gorgeous Hey Rosetta, song, “A Thousand Suns”, before once again thanking us for coming, visibly overwhelmed by everyone’s support.
But, that support did not end there, as the crowd was relentless, continuing to clap and cheer and stomp (and I think a few people even singing) which prompted what I think was a rare legitimate encore. Baker came back on stage, alone at first, for the perennial favourite “Red Heart” before being joined by everyone else that was on stage that night, singing along for a moment I won’t be sure to forget any time soon.
Any worries I had about Tim Baker not living up to the Hey Rosetta live shows were almost immediately quashed, and this show is bound to be one of my favourites & most memorable come the end of the year.
The Eighteenth Hole
Don’t Let Me Go Yet
A Thousand Suns