Nothing To Be Sad About as Bahamas Warms Up YYC

The JUNO-winning Sad Hunk took the crowd on a sweet ride to ‘soft rock town’.

Afie Jurvanen performing on stage in Calgary.

Bahamas Live in Calgary at Jack Singer

Who: Bahamas
Where: Jack Singer, Calgary
When: Thurs., Nov. 25
Vibe: A laid-back, beer-in-hand evening enjoying the good vibes and dad jokes of beloved Canadian soft rocker Afie Jurvanen.
Highlight: Showing off his Strat-ospheric skills, Jurvanen embellished his classic tracks with groovy guitar solos.
Next: Wed., Dec. 1, Meridian Hall, Toronto

Most concerts start with the thump of a kick drum or the ring of guitar chords, but on his Still Sad tour date in Calgary, Afie Jurvanen — better known as multi-JUNO-award winning artist Bahamas — has a little fun with his intro.

“This is your captain speaking,” his radio announcer-worthy voice declares from off stage. “Welcome aboard this flight departing from Calgary and going to fuckin’… soft rock town.” The multi-tier crowd erupts.

The name “Bahamas” conjures images of sunny beaches, friendly people and the soft, sweet sound of steel drums. Jurvanen’s unpretentious attitude lives up to the laidback vibe: Right off the bat, he does away with ritualistic frills, addressing that he won’t be doing any encores. Why? Because, he says, how silly is it when the band pretends to leave and we all know they’re coming back? The man has a point.

His casual demeanour feels very Canadian. It also closes the space between the 1,700 seats and the stage — he jokes as if he’s just shooting the shit with a friend.

Launching straight into hits like All I’ve Ever Known, Way With Words and Caught Me Thinking, he gives the people the intimate, feel-good energy they came for. It’s hard to pinpoint the demographic of the full house: It’s a mix of 20- and 30-somethings, date nights and, of course, fellow soft rock-loving dads.

Jurvanen wears the role of old-school corny-joke dad well. Singing the line “Don’t keep me waiting on some SMS” in Way With Words, he ad-libs, pointing at a teen in the audience as he says, “That’s a text, young man.” With his expressive, richly toned voice and easy breezy tunes, it’s only a matter of time before Sesame Street calls needing a guest host.

One of the biggest treats of flying to soft rock town with Jurvanen is the guitar solos. Messing about with tropical-sounding riffs, he can send any song into the Strat-osphere as he twists and contorts his face to reach the notes in John Mayer-like fashion. During a two-minute freestyle in Opening Act (The Shooby Dooby Song), he’s just short of levitating.

Toward the final tracks, he regales the crowd with a song called Sports Car. It’s not on any of his five albums — it’s an oldie from 20 years ago. He sings of a dad who wanted a sports car instead of a son, and its wry wit and catchiness almost conceal how deep it cuts; Jurvanen was raised by a single mother. Bahamas might make for delightfully easy-listening, spunky guitar-driven tunes, but Jurvanen takes it to the next level with his sneakily profound lyricism.

As promised, when the flight touches down, there’s no encore — despite cheers for one. In classic cool-dad fashion, Jurvanen fist-bumps an audience member and disappears behind the velvet curtain, off to serenade the rest of Canada.

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