NAT BALDWIN at the Monarch, Thursday, July 24. Rating: NNN
The solo work of Dirty Projectors bassist Nat Baldwin is gorgeously understated and subtle, showing how strangely ethereal an acoustic upright can sound in the right hands. While he sometimes works with a band and a drummer, for this Toronto appearance he performed alone, wrapping his wistful vocals in shimmering bowed harmonics. Or rather, he attempted to perform alone, while an overly enthusiastic fan drummed along arrhythmically in the front row with his hands, until Baldwin politely asked him to stop midway through the show.
Unfortunately, the disruptive audience member's eventual ejection from the venue cast a weird vibe over the show and distracted from the experience. Baldwin's cover of Arthur Russell's A Little Lost was still haunting - and his own compositions translated quite well to the stripped-down arrangements - but it would have worked better in a theatre setting, rather than competing with the din of a bar. Had he brought the full band with him on this tour, the songs would have cut through the chatter and commanded the attention they deserve.