Hayden makes his Halifax return


I’m going to be honest here. I wasn’t even ten years old when Hayden Desser released his first album Everything I Long For in 1995. The following is a recap of a rare East Coast Hayden show. The last time Hayden was through these parts, he was opening for Feist in November of 2008.


Saturday definitely felt like the first day of Summer in Halifax. The calendar had just flipped to June and it was a perfectly hot day. It seemed a little too perfect walking into the Marquee while Hayden opened the set with “Almost Everything”, a song that name-drops Halifax.

“I hate to say it, but I forgot, probably because I tour unoftenly – is that a word? – I forget how good East Coast audiences are,” Desser said at the end of the night while performing the encore.

Hayden, along with Jay McCarrol and Taylor Knox performed in front of a backdrop of bright tube lights that spelled out “Us Alone”, the name of Hayden’s most recent album.

“This song is under the category of creepy,” Desser said sitting at a keyboard as the group started to play “Bass Song” from Skyscraper National Park.

It was a family affair for Desser. First of all his wife was in attendance and celebrating a birthday. Desser’s sister-in-law Lou Cannon opened the show and joined Hayden on stage to play keys and sing as they performed “Blurry Nights” from the latest album.

The main set ended with “Dynamite Walls”, carried along by a simple drum beat, weighty guitar chords and most importantly lyrics that paint a clear picture of travelling through Canada. The middle of the song turned into a powerful instrumental jam before settling back into the calm simplicity that carries the song along in the beginning.

For the encore, Desser, Knox and McCarrol came out onstage and performed an unplugged version of “Don’t Get Down” at the front of the stage. It was fascinating to watch the crowd gradually shutup, even the chatterboxes at the back of the venue, and focus on the music and calmly sing along.

(video via youtube user Glen Jackson)

What really stood out was how commanding of a presence Hayden has. Seamlessly transitioning from borderline grunge rock songs to harmonica and acoustic guitar based songs. Nothing felt formulaic. Everything felt fresh and important. It didn’t matter if the songs were from the mid-90s or the early-10s .