Jessica Lea Mayfield at the Cobalt Cabaret, 2/2/18
For those who have yet to cross the threshold of the Cobalt Cabaret, let it be known that within this world there remain places for which the passing of time is little more than an abstraction. A mere fifty paces or so from Pacific Central Station, the Cobalt stands guard over an eclectic street populated by a mix of new age cafes and old age people. The smoke of both cigarettes and blunts hangs heavy in the air, mixing and mingling the past and the present. Generations mix in the same way, heading up and down Main street in search of something beautiful.
Were any of them to enter the Cobalt last night (Feb. 2) – an establishment marked only by a slitted door just begging for a password to be whispered through it – they would have found themselves in a place far removed from the hustle and bustle of the outside world. From the small stage crammed in the corner to the brass-baroque chandelier to the dim disco lighting, the Cobalt proudly presents itself as every-seedy-dive-bar-ever. Whether it be the setting of a has-been guitarist come for one last encore, or the background for another rags to riches up and comer, the Cobalt has seen things happen, and last night was no exception.
With a headliner like Jessica Lea Mayfield, it’s a certain social niche that generally shows up. With an 8 p.m. concert on a rainy Friday night, it’s an even narrower niche that tends to show up – a narrow one, and a devoted one.
Opening for Mayfield was Nashville quartet Sun Seeker – a laid-back ensemble of bass, synthesizer and melancholy riffs that seemed tailor-made for today’s love affair with the 80s.
Borrowing a few members of the band, Mayfield took the stage with a pink guitar, pink faux-fur jacket and glitter on her eyes, kicking things off with a simple, “hi, thanks for being here. Here’s a song.” Nothing more, nothing less; as timeless as any first century bard plucking a lyre and telling it how it is.
Gearing up for her second song entitled “WTF,” (meaning White Trash Fighting, a new song off her latest album entitled Sorry is Gone), Mayfield shed her jacket along with the awkwardness of being a stranger in a strange land, singing to a room full of strangers. “I’m gonna take my jacket off. Don’t tell my parents I said jack it off on stage.”
“This song is about washing your hands…off,” she continued, launching into “Offa My Hands,” another title off her latest album about moving on from a bad thing. Rolling out a few favourites from her previous albums, it was latest hits like “Meadow” and the title track “Sorry is Gone” that had everyone singing along.
“I don’t come to Vancouver very often. Damn shame. Is this all of you?” Mayfield joked before a brief encore. Stepping down a moment later, Mayfield manned the merch table herself, taking time to share stories and cell phone pics with anyone willing – a simple end to the kind of evening all too often about hero worship and avante-garde whatsits. As Mayfield herself put it in “Kiss Me Again,” “you can touch me if you wanna/oh I don’t really care.”