REVIEW: Andy Shauf at PhilaMOCA

Follow WHIP Twitter Facebook Instagram

PHOTOS & WRITTEN BY: Aaron Scofield

Departing from his usual use of clarinets, keyboards, and strings, Saskatchewan-born singer-songwriter Andy Shauf appeared at PhilaMOCA for a rare, intimate, and reserved solo show. Known for his storytelling and writing abilities, Shauf graced the stage for a sixteen-song set. Shauf found success in 2016 after his album The Party was nominated to receive the Polaris Prize for album of the year. On Sunday night, Shauf played numerous songs from The Party while sprinkling in classics from other works, including Four Songs and The Bearer of Bad News. In addition to these classics, Shauf played six unreleased songs from his upcoming album, rumored to be released in 2019.

An audience of all ages was entranced by just one man and his guitar for over an hour and fifteen minutes. Soft acoustic ballads, heart-wrenching stories, and impressive fingerpicking perfectly matched the ambiance of the warm fall evening. Shauf’s incredible storytelling ability shown through in each song, distinctly in “God Bless the Peaceful Man,” an older song about a desperate man who is thankful to find someone to rob.

 

“My cold heart races, my knuckles white

The sun long set: keeps me out of sight

‘till I turn his shoulder and shake his bones

Oh god bless the peaceful man”

 

After the second number came to a close, the audience cheered as Shauf launched into his hit from The Party, “Quite Like You.” It was clear that songs from the 2016 album were the ones the audience anticipated, but Shauf commanded total attention with unreleased songs, and even a few short question and answer periods while he tuned.

As a longtime fan of Andy Shauf, I saw the concert as a chance for Shauf to prove himself and continue his success moving from The Party. The unreleased songs were lyrically driven and beautiful in their own ways. “Living Room” told a haunting story of a father angry at himself for dismissing his children and their drawings. “Wedding” told the story of a man who is invited to his old lovers wedding, at which they share one last dance that is both beautiful and woeful.

For the last few songs in the set, Shauf played a few of his most popular and most driving songs. “Martha Sways” detailed a slow dance at a small-town party, with the narrator lamenting his former lover.

 

“Martha sways

And I follow suit

She fills my glass, and I toss it back

Into the space that once held you”

 

Shauf left the stage for the final time after an unexpected encore, and the audience poured into the street. I got a chance to briefly talk to Shauf as he went out a side door for a cigarette. I told him that as a cellist I appreciated his orchestration, to which he seemed genuinely appreciative. He signed my album and the setlist, thus ending an unforgettable evening.

Setlist:

  1. Hometown Hero
  2. God Bless the Peaceful Man
  3. Quite Like You
  4. You’re Out Wasting
  5. Skyline*
  6. Judy*
  7. To You
  8. Living Room*
  9. Things*
  10. The Worst in You
  11. Drink My Rivers
  12. Wedding*
  13. Martha Sways
  14. The Magician
  15. My Dear Helen
  16. Encore*

 

*Song is unreleased, tentative title written on setlist

Whaddya gotta say to that?