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Sarah Harmer at the Commodore Ballroom

Sarah Harmer

Sarah Harmer at the Commodore Ballroom, Vancouver, Jan 15 2010.

Review and photos – Sarah Harmer at the Commodore Ballroom, Vancouver, Jan 15 2010

– review by Rebecca Apostoli/photos by Ashley Tanasiychuk

An overly casual Sarah Harmer took the Commodore Ballroom stage to a packed house Saturday night.

The pre-show vibe was one of eager anticipation and excitement, which seemed rewarded with a sadly mediocre performance from Ms.Harmer. Looking like she had just rolled out of bed in jeans, a ratty t-shirt, no socks and no makeup, she proceeded to give an almost lackadaisical rendition of her recorded tracks, with very few examples of her band’s capable instrumental skills.

While the legion of Harmer fans, ranging mostly from the bookish female thirtysomething demographic to the grey-around-the-temples set, tentatively rocked out to her songs both new and old, I expected more from this seven-time Juno award nominee. But Harmer seemed to be suffering from a lack of imagination, energy and inspired musicianship.

The solos from her accompanists were pedestrian, with no improvised moments of creativity or spontaneity. Harmer herself presented an on-stage persona that lacked the fire and drive you would expect from an established frontwoman. She seemed a little too comfortable on stage, not taking any risks nor testing the well-worn boundaries of her established adult contemporary folk-pop niche.

In short, it was an uninspired performance that didn’t bring anything more than staying home and listening to one of her albums would have. Her lack of character in person is off-putting, as you would expect some degree of personality and interestingness from an award-winning songwriter such as Harmer.

Overall I give this show a rating of 4 yawns out of 10.

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