Date of show: November 29, 2012
Written by: Chiara DiAngelo
Halifax’s Erin Costelo headlined an early show at The Dakota Tavern. Unexpectedly sultry, Costelo’s powerhouse of a voice is 60’s R&B soulful and jazz-like, almost operatic at times. It felt like she should have been serenading us from the depths of a smoky jazz club rather than the tavern that is the Dakota.
Backed by a three-piece band that included her partner Clive MacNutt, the other two members were hastily thrown together for the show with only one rehearsal under their belt. The only indication of their lack of experience with Costelo’s songs however was the fact that the drummer was reading sheet music. Unfortunately, the sound of the songs off her recent album We Can Get Over was pared down slightly compared to the record as she wasn’t traveling with her normal full band.
Starting very simply, with her on the piano for two older songs, including “The Birds That Wake The Day” written for a friend’s play, she then transitioned to her newer material for the rest of the set. “Give a Little” was first written as a love song, then based on ensuing events in her and MacNutt’s relationship, transformed into a breakup song and finally an “I wish we didn’t break up” song. It was an interesting dynamic having her partner in the band while she discussed the themes of her personal heartfelt yet sad songs such as this one. “I Don’t Know Anything” was one of her only more tenderly romantic songs and was suitably played by just Costelo and MacNutt. Another highlight of her set was a breathy cover of “Too Young To Be Fooled” by Barbara & Brenda.
Just as I was thinking that some her songs sounded like they should have had backup singers to fit the 60s style (“Give A Little” in particular), Costelo mentioned that her next song “Let It Go” actually does typically feature an additional three voices. Lacking them tonight, the crowd stepped in to take up the “oh-oh-oh-oh’s.” A song with soul written all over it, she finally managed to get some people to dance. Her set concluded with title track “We Can Get Over.”
With it not yet 9pm, Costelo didn’t even leave the stage before deciding to do one more song, playing “Count To 10,” which she dubbed “a silly song” written for her friend’s 40th birthday. While playful, it was a track you could easily swear to actually be a cover of one of the greats. Led by opener Treasa Levasseur, the dance floor soon filled up with people singing along. Costelo’s is a voice that truly has to be experienced for yourself. Give her a listen over on her website.