I have seen Hawksley Workman four times. Each performance I’ve seen has been better than the last. For that reason, it shouldn’t have surprised me that the most recent tour to support his newest record Old Cheetah was the best show yet.
Workman isn’t going to be found onstage lip-synching, he’s unlikely to play a pop song (Although my ideas about what pop is might be broader than others). He isn’t a famous international superstar even though he is, arguably, a Canadian one.
I can tell you what Hawksley Workman is when he’s onstage. He is a musician, a singer, an entertainer, a lyricist, a poet and he’s also pretty funny.
We were in the lovely Alix Goolden Hall in Victoria this past weekend to see Hawksley and his band perform a variety of songs from the past and the present. Amongst other offerings were the songs Make Up Your Mind Tonight, Don’t Take Yourself Away (Instant Nostalgia), and Winter Bird from the new record.
There were a lot of old favorites too: Paper Shoes, Old Bloody Orange, Ilthacombe, Romanticize The Automobile, Baby Mosquito, and Clever Not Beautiful. Workman has breathed new life into these familiar songs – and they’re more of a musical adventure than a simple performance.
As always, there were a few of Workman’s signature stories in between the songs. There’s no real way to describe these little glimpses into Workman’s mind except to say they are quirky and amusing. I’m sure I remember him saying in a recent interview that he’s written a children’s book and I can see why. I’m sure it will be something that I’ll be purchasing.
The most remarkable part of the evening was the encore. After thunderous applause and stamping from the audience, Workman returned to the stage. Instead of taking up his usual position, he unplugged his guitar, put down the microphone and sat on the edge of the stage. He played a stunning version of Autumn’s Here. It was fluid and beautiful and Workman’s voice was crystal clear and strong in the huge old Church. He also played Safe and Sound which is always a sing along and never the same song twice. It was amazing. I could have gladly sat there for a few more hours and listened to Workman.
There’s just something about Hawksley Workman. It isn’t just that he’s talented, it’s not just that he’s funny and witty, it isn’t even the jokes about the past government or the fact that he was facing a “room full of weirdos” who would rather be listening to a live show than at home watching TV. He’s just a real entertainer. There aren’t that many of those left.
Thanks Hawksley, for being an entertainer and sharing a bit of your mid and creativity with us.