AIDAN KNIGHT, JUSTIN RUTLEDGE

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FESTIVAL HALL, NOVEMBER 13, 2013

One of Calgary’s newest venues, Festival Hall is a unique location for an evening of music. When Aidan Knight and Justin Rutledge brought their “Last Best West” tour to the Hall on a mild Wednesday evening, they faced an intimate and stripped down venue, with nothing but a black curtain behind them and rows upon rows of hushed audience members ahead. The pressure was certainly on to captivate the crowd’s attention and put on a strong show.

Justin Rutledge quickly proved that he was up to the task. Though he appeared with nothing more than himself and an acoustic guitar, he was able to fill the stage and keep the audience’s attention. Soft-spoken and seemingly relaxed even in front of a crowd, Rutledge played songs from his newest album, 2013’s Valleyheart, and select favourites from earlier releases. The crowd responded so well to his performance that he was brought back onstage for an encore, certainly a rare occurrence for an opener.

As a five-some that still performs under the lead singer’s name, Aidan Knight took to the stage with a bit more firepower. They began playing with little fanfare and, while the increased instrumentation onstage pushed away the hushed mood that had been established by Rutledge’s set, they managed to keep the intimate feeling alive. Even so, one of the best moments of the evening was when Knight was alone onstage and, stepping out from behind the mic to fill the room with his natural voice, he sang the haunting “Margaret Downe.”

Following the final song of Aidan Knight’s encore – a sing-along version of crowd-pleaser “Jasper” – the audience rose to their feet, thanking Knight and Rutledge for a wonderful show and urging them to return to Calgary again.

By Sara Elizabeth Taylor
Photos By Claire Bourgeois

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