Show review: Kaia Kater, Jennah Barry and Lydia Persaud baptized our ears at Halifax Pop Explosion

The trio of sets at St. Matthew's church made the most of the high ceilings while lifting beyond lofty expectations.

click to enlarge Kaia Kater's return to Halifax—on the wings of HPX 2019—saw the bluegrass-infused soul singer take us to church, literally. - RAEZ ARGULLA PHOTO
Raez Argulla photo
Kaia Kater's return to Halifax—on the wings of HPX 2019—saw the bluegrass-infused soul singer take us to church, literally.
“I think church is my new favourite place,” said Lydia Persaud between songs. She was the first of three Pop Explosion acts to perform on at St. Mathew’s United church on October 25. It was a pleasant evening for the roughly 100-person audience sitting in the pews. Lydia Persaud, Jennah Barry and Kaia Kater each played a set on Friday night.

Persaud had a clear, clean singing voice. Her songs each had a clear message—but the smart lyrics never interfered with the prettiness of the music. A highlight was her own rendition of Grandma’s Hands by Bill Withers.

Jennah Barry has personality to spare. Between songs, she taught the crowd some delightful trivia: Did you know about Harry Potter erotica fanfic? Now you do. Her soft, slightly breathy singing voice was comforting. Her music is sensual, a warm, homemade quilt on a cold day.

Kaia Kater had an impressive set, interspersed with audio of her father telling his story about the revolution and subsequent U.S. invasion of Grenada. He came to Canada as a refugee at 16. Kater has a strong voice. Playing banjo, accompanied by standup bass and electric guitar, mixed with the sound of news reports about the Granadian revolution, it made for a compelling audience experience.

The pillars, pipes and pews are all beautifully quaint in the St Mathew’s United. The curves of the arches and coloured lights beaming up the wall seemed to lift the music and fill the hall. Something made for great acoustics, whether it was the super-high ceilings or the holy spirit. It helps to have great talent performing, too.

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