It was a cool mid-April Saturday night in Halifax when Tim Baker returned as part of his tour supporting his late 2022 release The Festival. A legion of fans flocked to the downtown venue to support the former Hey Rosetta! front-man turned solo artist. This crowd was made up of fans of both the aforementioned band, and Barker’s penchant for writing these slow-burn indie-pop tunes.
Tapped to support Baker on this tour was none other than the talented Georgia Harmer. The Toronto native was a perfect choice, for her dreamy folk tunes that absolutely shimmered in The Light House Arts Centre. The singer-songwriter carries with her an impressive musical pedigree, being the daughter of two former Weeping Tile members (Mary Harmer and Gord Tough), and niece to fellow Arts & Crafts label-mate Sarah Harmer. While music may be in her blood, the younger Harmer also sang backup for Alessia Cara, so the stage is no stranger to her. Georgia’s poise definitely belies her age. As she worked her way through her short (but sweet) opening set, there were a pair of Georgia Harmer fans on the rail singing their hearts out, word for word to Harmer. It was a great way to kick the night off and got the crowd ready for Tim’s forthcoming set.
For those uninitiated fans in attendance taking in their first Tim Baker show, it may have been a bit perplexing, as if they hadn’t received a decoder ring at the door. The show was structured in a similar way to many of Baker’s songs, as the set started off quiet and plaintive, continuing to build sonically until reaching its crest and slowly waning back into a satiated silence. One might even liken the show structure to a pot of tea, that you would put on to welcome a friend into your home. It slowly warms to a boil, rollicking there for a period, and as you remove it from the heat, it gradually dissipates as the water cools.
On this night, Baker kicked off the show seated at his keyboard with the delicate track “Lucky Few”. It’s a track that is beautifully sparse, luring the listener in with little more than the keys and vocals. As the tempo picked up, the lights gradually brightened, fully illuminating the singer/songwriter. As the tour was to promote Baker’s ironically titled pandemic record The Festival, it only made sense that the set started with the opening two tracks. The opening few songs were quieter, and maybe not immediately accessible for the first-timers, but tracks such as “My Kind” and “Dance” (the opening track from Baker’s debut solo effort Forever Overhead) sparkled with a charm and beauty not many songwriters can achieve.
The show picked up pace when Baker launched into “Some Day”, an immediately accessible track from The Festival that is a sweet slice of indie-pop ear-candy, loaded with horns and a delicious choral backing which sticks with you long after the album has stopped. Baker would have been doing himself a disservice had he omitted his Hey Rosetta! Work from the show, so it was a treat to hear the well-known gems “Soft Offering (for the Oft Suffering)” and “Welcome”. That feeling was clearly evident amongst the crowd as you could see wide ear-to-ear grins throughout the venue, as they gleefully sang along to the beloved tunes.
As the set began to near its completion, Tim Baker invited Georgia Harmer to the stage to join him in performing “All Hands”. It felt like we were watching a Kitchen Party breaking out on stage, as folks shifted stations to make room for Georgia. You could clearly see the joy etched on the faces of Tim and his All Hands band (featuring Halifax’s very own Kim Harris). Closing out the main set was “Don’t Let Me Go Yet”, a smoky smouldering number that has a bluesy, slow-dance feel to it. It was a fantastic choice to close.
Tim and the band left but did return to play a short encore, before the curtain fell on the evening. It was a fantastic night of tunes, with people’s hearts swelling and their faces smiling as they exited the venue with Baker’s melodic earworms lodged in their heads. A fantastic night of music that felt like you were welcomed in by a long-lost friend, and reconnecting after an extended absence. Fortunately, for those first-timers, decoder rings were offered on the way out, which allowed an already stellar night to shine even brighter in retrospect. All in all, it transformed this casual listener into a certified fan.