The Head and the Heart Visit Bronson with Basia Bulat

March 30th, 2014 by  |  Published in Concerts  |  1 Comment

The Head and the Heart - at the Bronson Centre in Ottawa

Anybody with a head or a heart can find something to love about these bands

On Thursday, The Head and The Heart’s first Canadian tour stopped at The Bronson Centre, bringing beloved Toronto artist Basia Bulat with it. Both are touring to promote records they released late last year.

I’ve wanted to see Basia Bulat for a long time. When her concert at the First Baptist Church on Feb. 13, 2010 sold out before I could purchase tickets of my own, it began a long string of bad luck that saw me miss her Ottawa appearances for the next four years.

Bulat owns stage with spellbinding presence

That changed on Thursday, and as far as performances go, I couldn’t have picked a better one. Basia Bulat is full of confidence right now, and she owns the stage with spellbinding presence. She engages the crowd with blushing warmth, sharing deeply personal and soul-baring music with an audience that she knows is in love with her, and reciprocates openly. There is something universally attractive about a woman who is doing precisely what she was born to do—every note, step, and turn.

And she still loves her songs, (if she’s acting, it’s one hell of a performance). Too many boy bands forget how important this is. She played favourite Basia tunes of mine like “Gold Rush” and “Snakes and Ladders.”

I felt that she should have been allotted a full set—many older members of the audience were there for Basia. This is often the case in Ottawa when Juno-nominated acts come to town.

The Head and Heart have a large Ottawa following

When The Head and the Heart walked out, there was little doubt about who was headlining the show, though. Although this is their first Canadian tour, they have a large following here. The very vocal university crowd at the front of the stage reminded me of old Beatles audiences.

The Head and the Heart are a folk-rock outfit, but it would describe them better to call them an energy band. They like to begin their songs slowly, and build into giant waves of sound that buffet the audience like a high surf. Lead singer Jonathan Russell calmly glides around the stage while Josiah Johnson and Charity Rose Thielen alternately pitch in on vocals, guitars and percussion duties. Russell’s calm presence in the middle of the stage is enhanced by a band that works itself into a frenzy around him. It’s contagious—the crowd fed off of it.

If you get the chance to see this tour, do so. Although the bill is only 2 acts deep—I prefer at least 3 bands during an evening—the acts themselves are deep enough to pull it off. Their tour resumes on Sunday at Kool Haus in Toronto before moving through the American mid-west. After the American dates, the tour heads north for another Canadian leg.

photos by – Scott Martin


  1. The Head and the Heart and Basia Bulat at the Bronson Centre | Scott Martin Visuals (SMV) says:

    March 31st, 2014at 9:01 am(#)

    […] You can find a review of the show on Spotlight Ottawa. […]