A voice that could melt glaciers

Review: William Prince @ West End Cultural Centre (November 10, 2017)

William Prince performing at West End Cultural Centre. /PHOTO: Doug Kretchmer

I attended one of the worst shows of my life a few days ago. I’m all for stepping out of my comfort zone now and then, but I flung myself nowhere near it and paid the price for it.

GWAR’s show at The Pyramid Cabaret was upsetting and disturbing and I couldn’t seem to shake the filthy things I saw there. I was left feeling shaken and unsettled.

When it comes to concerts, my friends and family are always asking me “What’s next?” To be honest, I never know unless I check my calendar. I usually buy tickets to shows and forget about them, until a few days before, when I’ll glance at the calendar to figure out when I need to call my Mom to babysit my Daughter.

After that GWAR show, I frantically searched my calendar for the next show and almost cried with relief when I saw “William Prince” in just a couple of days.

I saw William Prince for the first time at the 2017 Canada Summer Games at The Forks. He sang with Sierra Noble and while I didn’t really like that pairing, I knew I had to see each of them separately to really appreciate them. I remembered William’s voice and how comforting it made me feel, which was exactly what I needed right now.

The day of the show, I risked life and limb by driving out to Oakbank in a blizzard to attend a friend’s house party (shout out to Lori, Cori, Vanessa & Glenna!). On the way back to Winnipeg, the roads were slick and by the time I found parking, I was 15 minutes late for the show.

I ran in and breathlessly took my seat at the back of the theatre as Justin Lacroix strummed his guitar and sang “I would only break your heart”. I’m always amazed when musicians get up on stage by themselves and sing. It was just Justin and his acoustic guitar, in a room full of people staring at him. That’s gotta take a certain level of confidence both in yourself and in your product.

Justin’s product was good. This was the first time I’d seen or heard him and I liked his performance, but I found it a bit hard to concentrate, because I REALLY needed to hear William.

More specifically, what I needed was that comforting, soothing voice telling me to calm down, that everything was going to be alright and the world was still a good place. He didn’t specifically say those words, but his tone did and I melted in my chair.

William Prince on stage at West End Cultural Centre. /PHOTO: Anne Martin

He sat in a chair with just a mic and his acoustic guitar. But it wasn’t his regular acoustic guitar, it was a new one and he expressed guilt about ditching his old one that helped him get this far in his career. Then he shook his head and said “…or maybe I should stop being psycho and pretending inanimate objects have feelings,” to which everyone laughed.

William was quick to thank people and express his gratitude that people came out to see him in the middle of a blizzard. The truth is, The West End Cultural Centre was probably the warmest venue in the city that night; that voice could melt glaciers.

He sang some new stuff and plenty of songs about life and love. There was a lot of banter, which was just fine with me as it was usually either funny or filled with gratitude and always personable. Once he even sang that he wasn’t going to talk anymore because he just wanted to play his songs. But that didn’t last and there was more banter after the next song.

I don’t know how old William Prince is – and I’m sure this has been written before – but his voice sounds MUCH older than he probably is. It’s smooth and rich – a golden voice that’s usually only developed with age. This makes it all the more interesting to sit there and listen to it come out of someone so young. I’m sure he’s heard this line of thought before, which may be why he wrote “Old Souls” with Scott Nolan.

My favourite song was “Shades Of Black”. He introduced it by saying it was written as a rock song that someone like Bruce Springsteen would sing, but whenever he sang it, he felt silly because he “shouldn’t be sweating this much.” It was written when he was going through a period of self doubt and the lyrics reflected resilience.

“Breathless” left me feeling a bit teary-eyed and I’m not sure why. It was just really beautiful.

William thanked everyone and then he came back out for the encore and told us how much he enjoyed being a Dad. He told us he was putting a new record together and then dedicated the next song to his son.

He ended the encore with “Little Things” and that was it. The voice of gold was gone.

I bought his album on the way out. It was released two years ago and won him a Juno Award (which is sitting in a box in his closet), but this was the first time I’d heard it. I enjoyed the album, but what I liked the most, is he doesn’t sound like that anymore. His voice and tone has evolved. You can hear the beginnings of that deepness and richness, but he’s in the process of honing his craft and if he’s this talented now…

I’ve attached his tour schedule; he’s heading west. If you’re reading this review from any of these locations, I highly recommend you check him out. Remember it’s not a “hang upside down from the disco ball” kind of show. Just go for the voice. Sit back and relax, let him do his thing. It’s very special and it’s worth it.

All is right in my world, once more.

Good night.

P.S. Sorry about the horrible picture, my cell phone is awful.

TicketMOMster is a Rock and Jazz-loving Mom; single-handedly keeping Ticketmaster alive in Winnipeg. Follow her musical journey here: www.facebook.com/TicketMOMs

Anne Martin

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TicketMOMster is a Rock and Jazz-loving Mom; single-handedly keeping Ticketmaster alive in Winnipeg. Follow her musical journey here:
http://www.facebook.com/TicketMOMsters

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