On a cool Friday evening, those in the know packed The Carleton for the hotly anticipated return of Andrew Waite and the Firm. The PEI-based collective was making its return to the stage after a six-month break. It wasn’t that the band just sat around staring at the walls during that time, it was more than a little eventful for Andrew Waite and his wife/bandmate Nikki. The newly-minted parents welcomed their bundle of joy into the world earlier this year.
The band last played this room back in 2021 as part of the Halifax Urban Folk Festival when they blew the roof off of the room with a fiery performance. It was one of the few shows that occurred during the covid-reprieve last year, but even with a packed slate, it would have easily been one of the best of the year.
Andrew and the crew heavily showcased their latest eponymous record, while peppering in fan favourites from their debut album to round out the setlist. These shows are the ones that spawned the FOMO sentiment, as they are the shows that people will be talking about days and weeks later, from the searing guitar solos of the incomparable Nick Gauthier to the brass blasts of Nikki Waite’s saxophone solos. Throughout the set, bassist Evan McCosham on stage left kept things simmering along, holding things down till about midway through the set when he had the opportunity to let loose, and much like those in attendance, his bandmates watched in sheer amazement as he ripped off lick after firey funky lick.
History goes to show that many a band can make great music together, but off-stage that same chemistry just doesn’t exist. It isn’t the case with Andrew Waite and his bandmates, in particular, the interactions between Waite and his guitarist Nick Gauthier. Gauthier would be the Keith to Waite’s Mick, the smiles beaming across their faces as they jammed like they were just playing in someone’s basement. It’s a treat to watch.
Another key member of this ensemble is none other than Nova Scotia singer-songwriter Chris Kirby, who was manning the keys during the headline set. But Kirby was playing double duty on this night, as he performed his solo material to kick it off. As a long-time Wide Mouth Mason (WMM) fan, it was interesting to hear Chris take on a song that he thought was intended for a forthcoming WMM record, and that was penned with WMM’s very own Shaun Verreault. It carried with it a familiar cadence, but now with Kirby’s soulful delivery. It was a great way to whet the palette for Waite’s impending set, and Kirby closed his set out with an ode to the incomparable Mary Browne.
It was undeniably a triumphant return, as Waite and his band were in high spirits, and ready to shake the rust off after a lengthy, yet hectic hiatus. Both patrons and performers were ecstatic to see the band on stage, and if you ever have the opportunity to see Andrew Waite perform live, jump at the opportunity, as it is money well spent. Next on the docket for Waite and the Firm is a trip to Fredericton for the East Coast Music Awards, where the band is nominated for 4 awards, and will more than likely be bringing home some new hardware for the mantel. Be assured that this writer will be anxiously awaiting Waite’s return to Halifax. Until next time!