I got lucky recently, when I discovered that the Toronto Botanical Gardens were holding the last of their concert series in the park. This would be held at Edwards Gardens at 777 Lawrence Ave East. I was lucky to enter into a full house of music fans who came to get a glimpse of Laila Biali.
What can I say about this performer? In this instance I would give her the title of Head gardener, because we had the rain that kept us indoor, but it was her sunshine that helped feed us and help our spirits to grow. With the help of Rich Brown on bass, and Ben Wittman on drums, this trio was the perfect trifeca of filling the room with joyous sounds that helped with anyone who needed a spiritual top up.
She opened with two songs from her acclaimed self-titled album that garnered her a Juno award. We go and Got to love, immediately filled the room with positive energy. She also threw in some fabulous reinterpretations of other great songs like, Coldplay’s- Yellow and David Bowie’s Let’s Dance. Of course Laila was feeling very hippy and trippy, as she went into Joni Mitchell’s Woodstock, followed up by Neil Young’s Heart of Gold. She even gave the audience choice of a remix of another song that was meant for a surprise or a song from Imogen Heap. Well an over enthusiastic fan clearly wanted to hear Immi…, so we got the cathartic song Let go, with an amazing drum solo by Ben Whitman. What can I say about Ben, he is so suave…
The real show is how smoothly these three musicians work together. All it takes is one smile from Laila to see the band perform at peak performance with a sense of joy and purpose.
If this is the kind of talent the Toronto Botanical Garden is bringing into their free concerts series, I will be back again and again. I will promise you, I will dig deeper and let you know when this series returns, so you can go get yourself back to the garden.
Here are a few images of Laila Biali: