Concert Review: Darren Hayman, Pop Montreal, Oct 4, Le Gymnase

Montreal – When I realized Darren Hayman was playing as a part of the Pop Montreal music festival, my excitement for this festival went up five fold. I have been a Hefner fan for quite some time. The thought of hearing Hefner tunes live had never occurred to me before since the band had broken up, but the thought of Darren Hayman singing some of his classic songs had me more giddy then a fat man at an all you can eat buffet. For those not in the know, Darren Hayman is an indie singer songwriter known for his awfully honest songs about love and heartache. His former band Hefner had a small but strong following and he had not been in Canada for 8 years (according to a fan).

The show took place at a place known as Le Gymnase. Le Gymnase was an average venue, the show was on the third floor, whereas the second floor of the club was a dance club that was playing Blur’s “Girls and Boys” when I walked by. The setup on the third floor was pretty odd. Think long narrow rectangle, with the stage in the middle. The setup forced the musicians to face the bar when singing, leaving about a twenty five foot space for people to gather, if they wanted to face the singer. I guess there really wasn’t any other place to set it up. My main complaint about the choice of venue was that the second floor club’s bass was a little too strong and distracting during some of the quiet acoustic songs.

Armed with a guitar, Darren Hayman strolled onto the stage a bit after midnight, said hello to everyone, encouraged people to stand up near the stage and started off his set. There was about 50 people there initially and clearly all these people were Hefner fans. Song #2 was the favorite “Hymn For The Alcohol” off the Fidelity Wars. Now if you have listened to any Hefner song, you will know that this man is all about the lyrics – which means…sing a long! Darren Hayman/Hefner sing-a-longs are quite different from James, whereas the latter’s sing a long would be something like “Oh sit down
Sit down next to me” and mostly happy sing-a-longs, this guys sing a longs would be something along the lines of :

Start me on the whiskey I know whiskey is his drink.
You never drank it with me but now you drink it with him,
I’m not good enough for whiskey, not good enough for you.

Haha, not the most happy sing a longs, I guess. For the last chorus of “Hymn For the Alcohol”. Hayman walked with his guitar off the stage, and into the small crowd, letting the crowd finish the tune. Awesome. A couple other songs followed (“Out of My League”, “I Stole A Bride” , “Dont Go”). Then something quite wicked happened.

The opener for the set at Le Gymnase was New Brunswick singer Jane Ehrhardt. After one particular song, Erhardt and her bandmates joined Hayman on stage. Darren proceeds to introduce them and said that they had met just five days ago (after Jane Ehrhardt’s bassist Sam contacted him) and had worked on some tunes. Darren said “We’ve only met each other a few days ago, and heres what we came up with”. Because Hefner released about 200 songs in the time they were together, I wasn’t sure whether the new song was a Hefner tune or not. Anyways, it sounded great. After a song I didn’t recognize, he launched songs like “Greedy Ugly People”, “China Crisis”, “Half a Life” and “Love Will Destroy Us In The End” (maybe? I lost track). The fact that Jane Ehrhardt joined him on stage was just great, as it gave the songs a much fuller sound and allowed Hayman to sing some of his more popular songs that featured a female voice. The great thing was that the band just seemed really, really into it.

Darren and the band continued to sing some favorites much to the crowd’s delight. The crowd had swelled now to what was probably 100 people and I am pretty sure everyone who was there was glad they came. The encore consisted of Darren coming back on stage and asked people “Okay, so what are some songs that you want to hear?”. A two song encore of “Fat Kelly’s Teeth” and “Hymn for the Postal Service” occurred. The audience begged for more songs to be played, but the singer responded with a very classic “Always leave them wanting more” line.

Darren Hayman is one of the most honest and personable performers I have ever seen, even telling an audience member who had just requested a song something along the lines of “I struggle with the middle a, so don’t expect too much from this song”. He also started introduced another song with “When you are in Austria, and you are a mid to late thirties indie singer in decline …”. I guess the honest personality fits the music and you knew that there was no BS in anything he said. He also joked about having only “rudimentary knowledge” of his guitar and told people off to the side of the stage to move to the middle because all musicians know that the song sucks over there. After the show he hung around to chat with the people and seemed like a pretty genuine guy.

All in all, this was an awesome show. The small crowd, the intimate venue, the surprise addition of Jane Ehrhardt and her band and the fact that Darren Hayman hasn’t played in Canada in seven years all resulted in a special night, and a special show for all those who made it.

4.5/5

* I lost track of what songs were played. Alcohol does that.

Thanks to Darren Hayman, here is the set list

Hotter than Mojave
Hymn for the Alcohol
Nothing You Can Do About It
Don’t Go
Pornshoes
The Greedy Ugly People

(with band)

Out Of My League
The Crocodile
China Crisis
Caravan Song
Weight Of The Stars
Half a Life

(solo encore)

I Stole a Bride
Hymn for the Postal Service

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Posted on by Ricky in Concerts, Pop Montreal

About Ricky

Britpop lovin Chinaman, consumer of all things irrelevant. Toronto Raptors fan.

5 Responses to Concert Review: Darren Hayman, Pop Montreal, Oct 4, Le Gymnase

  1. Wade

    the venue sounds like The Silver Dollar here in Toronto.

    Did he play The Hymn For The Cigarettes?

  2. Ricky

    nope

  3. darren hayman

    I know I’ve been caught googling myself which is NOT cool but the set was.

    (solo)

    Hotter than Mojave
    Hymn for the Alcohol
    Nothing You Can Do About It
    Don’t Go
    Pornshoes
    The Greedy Ugly People

    (with band)

    Out Of My League
    The Crocodile
    China Crisis
    Caravan Song
    Weight Of The Stars
    Half a Life

    (solo encore)

    I Stole a Bride
    Hymn for the Postal Service

  4. Ricky

    i google myself all the time.

    Thanks for the set list…if you play Toronto, let us know for sure

  5. Jeanphilip

    Darren played my Telecaster!!!

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