Haim At Kool Haus
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By Nick Krewen
If you're looking for a band that replicates their studio album onstage note for note, be forewarned that Haim are not one of them.
The San Fernando Valley-based sister act, consisting of Este, Danielle and Alana Haim (pronounced Hy-um) has one solidly pop, slightly funky album, 2013's Days Are Gone, under their collective belt, but what the Kool Haus crowd received on May 15 in terms of their concert performance added a lot more edge to the proceedings.
With Este on bass, percussion and vocals; Danielle on guitar, percussion and vocals and Alana on rhythm guitar, keys, percussion and vocals, the trio — anchored and solidified by drummer Dash Hutton — channeled their inner Zeppelin and Sabbath for a strong rock presence during their debut Toronto visit.
As their heads bounced in unison to the opening "Falling," long hair flailing in every direction, both Danielle's screaming guitar and Este's finger-popping bass lines pumped up the aggression, catching Kool Haus patrons by surprise, but not an unwelcome one.
Perhaps taken slightly aback by the expert level of musicianship they were witnessing, Haim's audience responded with enthusiasm when the occasion warranted, as it did with their cover of Beyoncé's "XO," "Forever" and a dynamic version of "Let Me Go" that ended with a tribal drum call-and-response showdown between the three sisters.
For 75 minutes, Haim bolstered their reputation as an inventive live act, stretching out the arrangements and throwing in little variations from their studio counterparts — an approach that will serve them well in the long run as an act that needs to be seen to be fully appreciated.
The dynamics were strong and the harmonies were tight, as each Haim sister took her own lead vocal at various points of the night, with Alana declaring it an "epic show" near the end of the evening for the warm embrace the Toronto audience afforded them.
Strongly disciplined and motivated, Haim will take themselves as far as their dreams and capabilities will take them.
In other words: all the way.
"If I Could Change Your Mind"
"Oh Well" (Fleetwood Mac cover)
"Honey & I"
"Days Are Gone"
"My Song 5"
"Running If You Call My Name"
"Don't Save Me"
"XO" (Beyoncé cover)
"Let Me Go"
(Nick Krewen is the Toronto-based co-author of Music From Far And Wide: Celebrating Forty Years Of The JUNO Awards, a contributor to The Routledge Film Music Sourcebook and has written forThe Toronto Star, TV Guide, Billboard, and Country Music. He was a consultant for the National Film Board's music industry documentary Dream Machine.)