Crooked Fingers Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto ON July 3

Crooked Fingers Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto ON July 3
When you build a career for a good 20 years, you're bound to pick up some devoted fans along the way. And when much of that career is spent spinning confessional tales like those of Cormac McCarthy novel minus the bloodshed, chances are those fans are more devoted than most.

With a hole in his schedule touring with the recently reunited Archers of Loaf and no new album to shill, Eric Bachmann brought some basic equipment across the border to play some songs from his longstanding solo project Crooked Fingers to the relatively intimate environment of the Horseshoe Tavern. Accompanied by guitarist and vocalist Liz Durrett, Bachmann played a healthy helping of selections from the five Fingers albums, instantly enrapturing the crowd with his sincere and skillful playing and deeply resonant vocals. Bachmann was so pleased with the well-behaved crowd that he frequently commented on how much of a joy it was to play for such a quiet room.

But Bachmann shouldn't be so humble. While the Crooked Fingers records often come off as a bit too safe and laboured, played live and stripped of studio sheen, the songs had a transfixing quality and the rough-hewn poetry of the lyrics opened up when floating through the laid-back barroom. As a testament to this, Bachmann and Durrett performed Forfeit/Fortune's "Your Control" completely unamplified and without microphones, like buskers from heaven; a bold move, but one that was pulled off perfectly.

Bachmann was a commanding presence, and entertained audience suggestions all night long, and even treated the crowd to a version of the Archers' "Web in Front." Musically rejuvenated, he was simply a man with his songs stripped bare, and by doing so, he gave bright new life to the Crooked Fingers canon.