Mother Nature had a little surprise for Halifax leading up to In the Dead of Winter, dusting the city with a light blanket of snow, but clearing up just in time for the festival to start.
Spencer Burton, the artist formerly known as Grey Kingdom, formerly a member of Welland, Ont. indie rock group Attack in Black, got the IDOW ball rolling at the Company House. Unless you’re a super serious person who doesn’t like fun (why are you at a concert, hmm?), you’ll remember a Spencer Burton performance because of his hilarious banter mixed with strong songwriting. Burton has a way of telling stories that veer towards disaster, feeling like they’re flowing without inhibition from his brain to his mouth, across his large red beard and out to the audience. He was in fine form Thursday night, although, a tad tired. We won’t hold that against his first son was born the day before, so naturally he didn’t get much sleep before flying from Ontario to Nova Scotia. While the attentive audience didn’t laugh too hard at all his jokes, it’s safe to assume if he were playing later in the night when people were warmed up (both temperature-wise and alcohol-wise), the laughs would be cranked up a few notches.
While I didn’t keep an official record of the banter to music ratio, it seemed even. We won’t spoil any of the stories as he plays again Friday as part of a songwriter’s circle at AlterEgo’s at 7 p.m. His banter was confident and didn’t take away from the performance. When he did play, it was easy to be drawn into the songs. He picked away at an acoustic guitar while singing with a voice full of emotion as he recoils from a hilarious storyteller to a performer singing the stories that weigh heavy on his heart.
Photo: Jonathan Briggins/Mixtape Magazine