Published May 26, 2019Tim Baker moved to Toronto a couple of years ago, so the songwriter's Lawnya Vawnya appearance was a homecoming for the St. John's-bred musician. That explains why, an hour before showtime, there was a long line snaking out the door of Bannerman Brewing — the recently opened bar co-owned by Baker's former Hey Rosetta! bandmate Phil Maloney.
Baker's music is usually known for lavish arrangements and giant-sized emotions. Here, however, he stripped his songs down to their bare bones, performing alone on Rhodes electric piano, acoustic guitar and banjo.
Even in this format, he found subtle ways to bring out the grandeur in his songs, whether it was beefing up the strum pattern in the second half of "Hideaway" or suddenly leaping up an octave in the final passage of "Don't Let Me Go Yet."
Much of the setlist came from this year's solo album Forever Overhead, but he also drew on a few Hey Rosetta! back catalogue faves, with "Bandages" and a stripped-down banjo rendition of "Red Heart" inspiring the biggest sing-alongs. In a room full of friends and devoted fans, it felt like an intimate glimpse into Baker's musical roots. When he occasionally struggled with bum notes on his keyboard or flubbed the odd musical moment that didn't translate into a solo performance, he laughed it off in a way that made the whole thing feel even more spontaneous and unaffected.
The set ended with a rapturous standing ovation, making it clear that, even though the songwriter no longer lives in St. John's, the locals still consider him one of their own.