Laura Barrett Toronto, ON February 12

Laura Barrett Toronto, ON February 12
Sneaky Dee's oblong shape tends to stoke background noise, often overwhelming quieter bands. Case in point, Laura Barrett's Wavelength slot frequently combated the sound of chatty punters. Background noise aside, she and her ad hoc chamber orchestra turned in a playful and charming performance. Coming off a stint opening for the Magnetic Fields, Barrett's stage show is poised and refined. With kalimba (it's an African finger piano) in hand, the chanteuse bantered affably throughout, playing a string of wry, charmingly strange concoctions. In particular, closer "Robot Ponies," a meditation on futuristic Christmas consumerism, shone thanks to the fine improvisational acting of support player Ajay Mehra.