Real Live Action

Hayden + Jenn Grant


The Norm Theatre, UBC; February 12, 2008

Review By Jackie Wong

I wasn’t a Hayden fan when I arrived at the concert, but his live performance moved me to tears. Tears, I tell you.

I’ve never cried at a concert before, nor was I crying in the way rabid fans do at R. Kelly concerts. No, my unexpected eye-juice was embarrassing at first, but looking back, I realize it was a toast to Hayden’s talents as a troubadour of love, loss and affection for cats.

Writing songs about feelings is hardly new. But Hayden’s most innovative gifts lie in his ability to distill life’s more complicated moments into small, lilting studies of grace and gravitas.

His one-man show consisted of several guitars, a harmonica and a honky-tonk piano that the crew accidentally ordered from a prop company. Playing from the stage of the old movie theatre in UBC’s Student Union Building made for great acoustics, and Hayden’s cynical wit kept heartfelt lyrics from dipping into the cloyingly saccharine, striking a fine balance between the laughing and crying. Indeed, the show had it all.

Opener Jenn Grant joined Hayden for an encore number pulled from Hayden’s latest album, In Field & Town. Grant’s charming folk minuets set the tone for what would be the perfect concert for a rainy February night, and her reprise was a welcome finish to the show.

To close house properly, Hayden’s sound guy dropped a moldy Easter cream egg from the ceiling near the end of the encore. It was Hayden’s 37th birthday, and the egg has been a joke gift passed between Hayden and his friend for about nine years. No one was about to unwrap the elderly chocolate egg that night, but I think most people went home happy, faith in love restored.