Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton at Massey Hall, December 5th 2017

Part concert, part performance art, Emily Haines’s show at Massey Hall on Tuesday evening was a magical rollercoaster of raw emotion.  Performing with The Soft Skeleton (who she affectionately refers to as The Skeleton Band), the show was a combination of old and new material.

The evening began with Emily on stage pretending to sleep before waking up and brushing her teeth to the sound of her own voice over the PA system.  Delightfully quirky (although a little cheesy), the voice referred to the fact that all the things Emily has ever felt have already been fossilized in her music.  From here, three stirring songs kicked off the music for the evening with Emily behind the piano: “Planets”  and “Wounded” off Emily’s new album Choir of the Mind followed by the old favourite “Crowd Surf off a Cliff”.  These three tracks served to let a wave of complete melancholy wash over the crowd.

Moving the theatrical sequence along, the PA voice returned, urging Emily to get dressed and ready for her show which involved a small costume change of sorts and Emily returning to the piano.  She played a few crowd pleasers like “Detective Daughter” and “Maid Needs a Maid”, floating her young, delicate voice across the hall – a perfect depiction of what made Emily’s fans fall in love with her music years ago.

Closer to the end of the evening, Emily addressed Massey Hall to discuss what she’d been thinking of lately.  Coming off the song “Sprig” which was written by Emily’s father Paul Haines as a poem, Emily discussed how her last album Knives Don’t Have Your Back was largely created in the wake of his death and now with her new album, she’s turned to the idea of matriarchy and her own mother.  With deep and meaningful sentiment, Emily then launched into “Legend of the Wild Horse”, a highlight of the evening for myself.

Following up the enchanting new tune was “Doctor Blind”, the final major hit of the evening.  Winding down with three more songs, Emily Haines and the Soft Skeleton thanked the hall before she returned solo.  This time, taking a seat at the front of the stage, pianoless, Emily played two tracks: “Strangle All Romance” and “Choir of the Mind”.  With that, Emily’s new sound and emotional state was left strewn across Massey Hall thanks to one beautiful evening of music.

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