Veda Hille / P:ano / Kim Barlow The Blinding Light, Vancouver BC - May 2, 2003

Every spring, one of Vancouver's favourite daughters rolls out a special set of concert events. This year's edition was billed as "Veda Hille is Queen of the May," a jokingly self-aggrandising tag for a delightful series of four shows at the Railway Club and the Blinding Light, the smallest indie film theatre in BC. The second of these concerts opened with a set from Kim Barlow, a Yukon songwriter who delivered Keno City, a 30-minute song cycle about a tiny mining town four hours north of Whitehorse. Barlow's gentle acoustic tunes were set to the visuals of Andy Connors, a documentary filmmaker who cut together old file footage and newly-shot images to tell the poignant story of a once-vital outpost that has given up the ghost. Next up were the pranksters in P:ano, a local three-piece who had filmed themselves dancing like loons all over town, whether on the beach, in a grocery store or on Robson Street. The band's music was no joke though, consisting of a slowly evolving quiet-core piece better suited for close-eyed meditation than slow-mo moonwalks. Hille, meanwhile, proved again why she's one of Vancouver's most beloved artists, performing new and old material to the accompaniment of Shawn Chappelle's intoxicating abstract video images. Whether wielding the axe for some of her harder rocking songs or tickling the ivories on slow burn numbers like "26 Years," the chanteuse seemed perfectly in step with her talented band. Like a stirring performance art event without any of the pretentiousness, the night went off without a hitch, a blessed union of musical and visual talents too infrequently recognised by the mainstream press.