Hiatus Kaiyote Returns to Toronto After ‘a Million Years’

27 June 2024 / by Kinza Zafar
Hiatus Kaiyote
Hiatus Kaiyote Returns to Toronto After ‘a Million Years’
The Australian jazz quartet sold out History at annual festival

Hiatus Kaiyote seized the stage with flair in The Beaches on June 25 as part of the 37th annual Toronto Jazz Festival. Whistles and cheers greeted the band long before they appeared on stage, coming from those overwhelmingly eager to experience first-hand their distinct soul-infused soundscapes. 


“We got a new record coming out like any day now,” ​​announced frontwoman Nai Palm during the show, on the three-year anniversary of their 2021 Grammy-nominated album Mood Valiant.


The band expressed their enthusiasm about being back in the city. “It’s been like a million years,” exclaimed Palm as the band struck a few notes in agreement. Her charismatic banter fostered an electrifying yet intimate atmosphere — as intimate as sold-out shows can get.


Her voice effortlessly soared over the band’s tight, rhythmic foundation. Her powerful, wide-ranging vocals meshed perfectly with the band’s rich arrangements from bassist Paul Bender, keyboardist Simon Mavin and drummer Perrin Moss. Three backing vocalists ensured all harmonies were caught and executed masterfully along with Palm’s strong performance. 


Their approach to jazz defies traditional genres, merging elements of rock, neo-soul and progressive rhythm & blues sounds into a cohesive and compelling sonic narrative. From the delicate whispers of Mavin’s keyboard to the thunderous roar of Bender’s bass and Moss’ drums, their instrumentation is as diverse as their influences.


Each song felt like a journey — even for the biggest Hiatus-heads — filled with unexpected twists in composition and countermelodies, keeping the audience right in the palm of their hands. The band also performed a new unreleased track from their upcoming album.


A standout moment was the live rendition of “Red Room,” during which Palm invited the audience to join in the harmonies, declaring, “Find your spot and sing it. Harmonies welcome.” This collective participation sparked a unifying energy that underscored the band’s ability to connect deeply with their audience — a connection that continued to resonate after the show wrapped, made evident by the humming and whistling of the track’s melody on my streetcar ride home.


Hiatus Kaiyote has cemented their place as one of the most captivating live acts in contemporary jazz — and it turns out a cool breeze of funky jazz by way of Australia was all anyone needed on a humid summer day.


“There’s something about our music that attracts kind people and hot people… You’re welcome.”