Rebecca West The Carleton, Halifax NS, October 20
Published Oct 21, 2015Perhaps my ears were deceiving me Tuesday night (October 20), but I distinctly recall Rebecca West frontwoman Allison Outhit changing the year count in the lyrics to her song "Save It." Rather than "13 years," she instead sang: "Would I wait 18 years, pack it all in and hope it disappears?"
With the exception of a warm-up show at Pro Skates last month before a Pop Montreal set, this was the first time the '90s-era Halifax band had played their home city in 18 years. The reunion of the trio — which includes bassist Lukas Pearse and drummer Dale Hussey — comes alongside last month's release of Remains of the Day, a greatest hits-style retrospective album.
A lot changes in 18 years — Outhit, for example, now spends her days as vice president of FACTOR, supporting growth and development of the Canadian music industry. But her greatest contribution to Canadian music may still be Burners On, Rebecca West's soul-cutting debut album; sharp and clever, Outhit's songs, like "Sick" and "I Love the Way You Talk About TV," haven't aged a day, still as witty and engaging as they are deceptively catchy.
"Welcome to old night!" joked Outhit to kick off the band's set — and while the show attracted a slightly more "distinguished" crowd than some other HPX shows will this week, there were certainly younger listeners there, too, eager to catch up on a bit of Halifax music history. "This is possibly a once-in-a-lifetime experience," she continued. "If it takes another 18 years, I might be dead."
Outhit dedicated opener "Good Advice" to respected Halifax MP Megan Leslie, who was defeated in Monday's election, before continuing with a 14-song summary of the band's best work. Her voice, switching easily from a raspy sort of talk-sing to delicate high notes, found a groove quickly, and the more proggy material mid-set was aided greatly by bassist Pearse's steak-knife bass playing. (That's not a metaphor: Pearse actually does use a steak knife as a bow for his bass on some songs.)
"We don't know any more songs," said Outhit, when the keen crowd demanded an encore following the set-ending "Happy Now?" But she still had the short, snappy "Seven Days" up her sleeve. "Indulge me for exactly 41 seconds," she said, concluding with the song's final words, "sorry now." The only thing she'll need to apologize for is if it takes another 18 years to bring the band back together again.