On February 8, 1991, Jay Ferguson, Chris Murphy, Patrick Pentland, and Andrew Scott played as Sloan for the very first time in the cafeteria of the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (NSCAD). On January 28, 2023 – less than ten days shy of 32 years later – the same beloved rockers were given a warm hero’s welcome home at Halifax’s Light House Arts Centre.
Touring in support of their 13th album, Steady, Sloan’s performance was also peppered with a variety of songs from their classic 1998 release, Navy Blues, making up for a canceled spring 2020 show that would have thrilled the hometown crowd. The result was a true testament to the four players’ strengths and talents as singer-songwriters. Murphy masterfully demonstrated how to open an album with his openers Steady’s “Magical Thinking” and Navy Blues’ “She Said What She Means;” while Ferguson’s beautiful power-pop classic “C’mon C’mon (We’re Gonna Get It Started)” felt so complementary to “She Put Up With What She Put Down” that it’s hard to believe 25 years separate the two tracks. Scott’s phenomenal signature Dylan-esque psychedelica is as ever-present on “Sinking Ships” as it is on his latest masterpiece “Panic On Runnymede;” while the heartfelt Pentland brought a welcome spotlight to old and new acoustic favourties, “Stand By Me, Yeah” and “Simply Leaving.”
Sloan’s return to Halifax was honoured throughout the evening in the little details. New to the set in recent years, the band’s second-ever single, “500 Up,” brought an early nod to their beginnings, as did tracks from the band’s 1999 love letter to Halifax, Between the Bridges. In particular, “The Marquee and the Moon” served as a double tribute for both The Marquee, one of Halifax’s many legendary venues, and late Television guitarist Tom Verlaine.
And in an absolutely thrilling highlight of pure energy, Pentland fronted a 60-second tribute to both legendary Halifax music promoter Greg Clark and their own hardcore roots with Never Hear the End of It’s “HFXNSHC.”
Although it can be said all the entire set was full of fan favourites, with the audience filled with fans from across the decades (including a select few who were there at that very first show), no song received as warm of a response as the one that started it all, “Underwhelmed.”
It’s clear that throughout their long and storied career, Sloan has amassed a loving and proud fan base across Canada, eager to see their greatest of all time thrive even after all this time – but none are as proud as the fans of Halifax!
Born and raised with thoughts and aspirations of becoming a famous bassist in Sarnia, ON; Emily Plunkett now lives in Gatineau, QC, and considers National Capital Region home sweet home. A product of the Beatles, MuchMusic and the Southwestern Ontario summer festival circuit (circa 2000), her interest and love in concert photography came almost completely by accident when her journalism program at Algonquin College required courses in photojournalism (and she quickly realized that photos taken at concerts using a DSLR are enormously better than ones she was taking on a point-and-shoot she bought for a trip to England). She is extremely proud of the fact she has seen Sloan in some form or another 25 times.
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