Kathleen Edwards at the Alix Goolden Hall

Last Saturday night we saw alternative country singer-songwriter Kathleen Edwards at the Alix Goolden Hall (needs a Wikipedia page) here in Victoria. It was an all-around excellent concert experience. Edwards is a great songwriter blessed with a distinctive voice. I read one critic recently who described her as a “persuasive live performer”. That’s very apt–she demands that you listen to her.

She has three albums of really strong material, and any fan would have gone home happy with her well-chosen set list. In fact, the only song that I could name (without consulting my MP3 collection) that she didn’t play was “One More Song the Radio Won’t Like”. For the encore, she played a delightful version of “Mercury”, and then she and her husband-bandmate stepped in front of the mics to play a lovely, quiet version of the Everly Brothers “When Will I Be Loved”. Finally, they finished with a terrific, tumbling cover of Neil Young’s “Only Love Can Break Your Heart”. It’s a confident singer who ends her show with two covers.

It was, all in all, an excellent concert going experience, enriched by my first visit to the Alix Goolden Hall. It’s a converted 800-seat, 19th century church, and now belongs to the Victoria Conservatory of Music. I tried to determine what denomination the church had been, but couldn’t find anything on the web. It’s quite an austere space, with white walls, a sloped, curving balcony and ornate stained glass windows, so we guessed Greek Orthodox. It also had lovely acoustics–aside from the Chan Centre, probably the best my in-expert ears have heard on the West Coast.

You can read more about the space and see a panorama (MOV file) if you’re interested. Those links go to some web company’s staging site, so I’m not sure how long they’ll last.

Edwards’ opening act made me feel old. It was Dustin Bentall. Yes, that’s Barney Bentall’s son. Barney Bentall, for the unintroduced, was kind of a regionally-famous singer in the eighties and nineties. He played with a band called “The Legendary Hearts”, and they had hits like “Something To Live For”.

Photo by John Benson.


  1. Really hard to tell without an exterior shot, but as a non-architectural-type — but who’s been in a *lot* of churches — this looks like an old Methodist church design, which we see a lot of in United Churches, given the Methodist background of many.
    A tidbit here.

  2. I think Lincoln is right. For a lot of reasons, that’s a sensible guess. Renovations notwithstanding, the architecture (the cupola is completely wrong, large stained-glass-windows, no room to paint icons on the walls) is not very typical of Orthodox church architecture, even recent ones.

    Guessing Methodist (or one of the other denominations that merged into the United church) is also a good bet for historic and demographic reasons. If that’s the original pipe organ, it’s also a strong indicator.

    They’re not conventionally concert-correct acoustics, but anyone interested in devotional music in a remarkable setting ought to drop by Westminster Abbey in Mission.

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