After adding additional (northern) dates to their first ever UK tour a few weeks ago, I headed to Headrow House on Tuesday night to check out Vancouver based, Haley Blais. In the small intimate event space on the second floor, Sunflower Thieves took to the stage as support. The pop-folk duo, with harmonies reminiscent of boygenius, exhibited both a mix of songs from their EP Someone To Be There For and upcoming material, including a sneak peak of their song Same Blood. The band had the somewhat reluctant crowd joining in with their songs, warning them that singing is a non-negotiable element of Haley’s set, and by the time they left the stage, the audience was thoroughly warmed up. The band’s sound is overtly in keeping with that of Haley’s yet they still possess their own individual style. Having been named as part of Glastonbury’s Emerging Talent Longlist in 2020 and coming off their tour supporting Lewis Watson last year, the pair are certainly one to watch.
Haley’s humility was evident from both her attire – clad in jeans and a sweater – and her casual entrance to the stage. After playing their first song, Haley introduced herself and addressed the last-minute nature of these shows: “I’ve never said hello Leeds before. In fact, up until recently I didn’t even know there was a Leeds. Why are you all here? How do you even know me? Thank you for coming. We’re so stoked to be here and other stuff.” Blais announced that they have spent the last few years working on a new album (release date TBC) and the majority of her setlist was composed of these new unreleased songs. A stand-out of this selection was a song called Match Maker which I, for one, hope will be released sooner rather than later.
Of course, alongside these, Blais also treated the audience to a few more familiar songs, including The Coolest Fucking Bitch in Town and Be Your Own Muse as the encore. Haley also made the most of call and response audience participation in the performance of Small Foreign Faction. Although Haley’s inexperience with touring was made evident by her own admission and, by their informal performance style, this only made her performance more endearing, and their noticeable connection with their fellow band members intensified this. Haley’s phenomenal vocal talent made her performance captivating and was consistently showcased throughout the evening, although this particularly stood out in her rendition of Firestarter. After her performance, Haley made her way out to the merch desk to meet fans and sign autographs. Just as humble in conversation with fans as on stage, they joked about signing someone else’s name in place of their own as a prank. The combination of her relaxed attitude, remarkable skill, and relatable lyrics are likely to see Blais go far over the next few years.
Words: Sophie Fennelly
Image credit: - Sophie Fennelly