Jason Collett shines solo at Starlight (Nov. 10)

With Starlight’s intimate seating arrangement and two of Canada’s best singer-songwriters on the bill, Wednesday night promised to deliver a fantastic folk show. And deliver it did.

The night started with Canadian folk singer Al Tuck’s endearing performance. Jason Collett claims that, “Hands down, he’s the greatest songwriter of my generation, an opinion shared by many of my peers.” Praised by fellow Canadian’s like Feist, Chris Murphy of Sloan and Joel Plaskett, Tuck left the audience wondering why they hadn’t heard of him before.

Armed with whiskey, an acoustic guitar and a harmonica, Tuck played an array of new and old material, including “Wishing Well” – a song that Joel Plaskett covered on his album La Di Da. Charming anecdotes about his new harmonica, his expert harmonica player ex-girlfriend and an asylum in Burlington kept the crowd hanging on to his every word.

Collett came to the stage, accompanied only by an acoustic guitar. Having toured with varying backing bands and collectives, the show at Starlight presented Collett with the opportunity to showcase his truly singular talent.

Accompanying the release of his acoustic album Pony Tricks, Collett said that he’s enjoying this tour a lot and finds it “refreshing” to be out on the road with Tuck.

Opening with “Lake Superior” from this year’s Rat a Tat, Collett captivated the audience throughout his entire set. Before launching into “Brownie Hawkeye,” he joked about underage drinking and hanging around Beer Stores in the hopes that someone would take pity and buy the teenage Collett beer.

He also played the two new songs from his record Pony Tricks, “Pulling the Sun Down” and “My Daddy was a Rock ‘n’ Roller” – the former being a critique of the government’s inability to cope with the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) on young Canadian soldiers, which he linked with Remembrance Day.

Collett closed out his set with a variety of material from his back catalogue, sharing stories about everything from throwing out his back on tour and getting extremely high, to Leslie Feist’s misinterpretation of the “Bitter Beauty” lyrics as “You’re dreaming with thighs wide open.”

The crowd listened intently throughout, evidently enjoying the cozy atmosphere of Starlight.

He came out nearly immediately after his set to perform a three song encore, featuring “Vanderpool, Vanderpool,” a new song and “Long May You Love.”

After the show, Collett spoke to The Cord about the atmosphere of the venue. “Waterloo’s always been good to me, I’ve always felt a real warmth here,” he said.

He also praised the owners of Starlight, Bernard Kearney and Josh Koehler, claiming that the venue is “an institution, not just here but in Canada.”
Touring for as long as he has, Starlight has led Collett to develop an “appreciation for people that have really fine hospitality.”

Discussing the changing dynamic of each of his tours, Collett remarked that, “the industry is just used to doing things one way and it needs to figure out other ways to do things. This is part of what I do – to explore other ways to do things, try different angles. Exploring things with other artists in loose collectives is really fascinating to me.”

Despite his constant collaboration with other artists, Collett says that for now he’s “happy to just go out on my own,” though when his upcoming Australian tour with fellow musicians Zeus approaches, “I’ll be really ready for it.”

An exceptional and seemingly rare solo performance, Collett ensured that Wednesday night’s concert was one to remember.