Allie Hughes The Toronto Institute for the Enjoyment of Music, Toronto ON March 10

Allie Hughes The Toronto Institute for the Enjoyment of Music, Toronto ON March 10
The slightly wacky piano-playing songstress niche seldom has a vacancy. From Tori Amos's unexpectedly long tenure to the rise of Regina Spektor, the position has been consistently filled. With Allie Hughes's diverse résumé, including a faux-wedding and a reality television stint, she never had any designs on the job. Still, she carried off the guise with particular aplomb for this stripped-down afternoon show. With a sparse setup -- occasional piano, backup harmonist, and guitarist -- Hughes relied on her big, versatile, Kate Bush-nodding voice, playful quirks, and plenty of charisma. It takes a unique talent to carry off a should-be-terrifying stalker anthem like "O Chad," and Hughes did it without winking. Charming and gimmick-free, it was a satisfyingly pretty and lively set.