Bahamas / Doug Paisley St. James Hall, Vancouver BC December 9

Bahamas / Doug Paisley St. James Hall, Vancouver BC December 9
Catching the tail end of a band's cross-country tour has more benefits than being there opening night. The group is usually feeling a combination of things -- punchy, emotional, confident -- and the sound is so tight from playing show after show, night after night, that the end is when everyone loosens up again and things get a little crazy. And, if like folk rock outfit Bahamas, you've earlier that day fishtailed into a ditch on the side of the treacherous Coquihalla mountain pass en route to Vancouver from the BC Interior, well, being grateful you're alive is all the more reason to go a little off script.

Playing to a small but enthralled audience at the St. James Hall, Bahamas, the brainchild of singer-songwriter Afie Jurvanen, started the evening slow and quiet, playing without any between-song stage banter until after the fifth tune. It felt a bit like coming down after such a strong opening performance by Doug Paisley, who had great interaction with the audience. Once Jurvanen, touring with Weakerthans' drummer Jason Tait, let loose with his hilarious one-offs and clever quips, though, the audience was back on board with its charming headliner.

Jurvanen joked that the rocking "OK, Alright, I'm Alive" had special meaning, given the earlier incident on the highway. It also showcased his phenomenal skills as a guitar player, much the same way "Be My Witness" did. The latter is an electric number off the next record, allegedly due in spring 2011, and offers plenty of hints at the project's evolving direction.

Beautiful solo turns showcased the brilliant range of Jurvanen's lyrics, perfectly exemplified by "Sobering Love," a funny but bittersweet tune that talks about "the lump that leaves my pants and lands in my throat." But, nothing proved more entertaining than "What's Worse," which took a left turn as Jurvanen busted out a range of random classic guitar riffs, from Rolling Stones' "Paint It, Black" to what sounded like Foreigner's "Hot Blooded," while Tait kept changing tempos perfectly, never missing a beat.