Live: SayWeCanFly @ Rescue Rooms, Nottingham

By Mark Johnson

Since creating the SayWeCanFly YouTube channel in 2011, Canadian musician Braden Barrie has been successfully building a passionate fan-base and giving them at least one new record a year in return. His latest EP ‘Darling’, his first since signing to Epitaph Records, features a number of full band songs alongside his usual stripped-back acoustic style and with this tour he’s taken that one step further, inviting that full band to perform on stage with him for the first time.

Having been a solo performer thus far in his career, it’s no surprise that the full band set-up still needed time to bed in before it came across naturally, and for the first couple of songs Barrie was masked by the volume of the other instruments, his acoustic guitar and vocals getting lost in the mix. After an opening burst of fully electric material, the touring musicians passed control of the stage to Barrie, leaving him to perform a couple of songs alone. Playing acoustically is clearly his comfort zone and with the freedom to dictate the timing and volume level, Barrie’s excellent vocals shone through as he grew into the performance. By the time the band rejoined the stage, Barrie was in full stride and with the volume mix corrected, the rest of the set sounded natural and impressive.

Despite struggling to acclimatise to the British weather, which seemed a likely suspect for his unshakable virus, Barrie’s vocals were flawless throughout the performance. It’s clear that he’s invested time in perfecting his instrument and the control that he has over his voice is testament to that. During the volume issues at the start of the set, there was no attempt to overcompensate by straining his voice, Barrie kept it level and stable, meaning that when he did need to reach for the higher notes his voice never let him down. Often when singers are under the weather they choose to not sing portions of songs but Barrie persisted with every note and executed them perfectly.

As well as having an excellent voice, Barrie is also a great songwriter. His endless catalogue of catchy pop-rock songs comes across strongly in a live setting, so it’s a surprise to see the crowd consisting almost entirely of girls under 16. That’s not a criticism of the SayWeCanFly fan-base, but more of a call to other demographics to give Barrie’s work some attention. Perhaps a continuation of the style shown on ‘Darling’, where more full band songs were present in the mix, and with more evolution in the subject matter of his songs, this demographic may widen. With the talent that he has and the backing of Epitaph records, there’s certainly every possibility.