Attending all live music in Montreal is impossible.
Practically every crook and nook contains rhythms and vibes. World music, Blues, Rock – you name it, music is alive and well in the city .
Not all live music is performed by local musicians. Regularly – like pirates from a distant land; musicians arrive. They rape and pillage the souls of Montrealers and then they are gone. Gold pieces filling their guitar cases.
Arriving with a Top Ten Concerts List is not possible if integrity is involved. The simple fact that many live shows were missed adds to the incomplete puzzle. The most beautiful woman in the world, after all – is a choice ripe in location.
Please dissect the Top Ten Concerts of 2018 below with the knowledge they have been chosen from a well of sixty. Deep enough to siphon an amount comparable to the elite.
Top Ten Concerts of 2018
10. Steve Hackett
The former guitar player from Genesis loves playing in Montreal and Montreal loves having him. There are few guitar players in the world that play better than their glory years. Age is not kind to many. Hackett’s playing filled with an ever – growing knowledge and his touring band; second to none. Within the realm of Place des Arts, perfection is continually aimed for and forever obtained. A must see every time Steve is here.
9. Kim Churchill
The multi-talented singer/ songwriter from Down Under is ( for the most part) under the radar. Such is the sad state of mass media when artists that possess more talent than Boy George, scrape and claw to make a living. Kim’s live show is filled with musical and physical energy as Churchill trades keys, guitars, beat boxes and dancing with himself. The tunes are filled with Kim’s vocals emerging from his soul. Ballads mirror the journey of an artist in search of knowledge as he travels the globe.
8. Dr. Lonnie Smith
How many artists have mastered their craft for fifty years as a live performer? How many have mastered their instrument and continue to gain praise and achievements into their golden age? Dr. Lonnie Smith is the most sought after Hammond B3 player on the planet. Mostly due to not only hard work, Smith maintains an ability to grow by reaching into multiple genres and artists. Dr. Smith put on a Jazz clinic at Le Gesu as part of The Montreal International Jazz Festival. Every great commercial keyboard player on a Rock n Roll / Pop / Blues list will be erased following a performance by Dr. Lonnie Smith.
7. Jack Broadbent
Broadbent contains no bells nor whistles. A man, a chair, a guitar and a beer. Witnessing a live show by Broadbent conjures images of the old Delta Blues guys who laid down the framework for all music today. Bottleneck slide, a raspy voice and tunes dark like the night and crisp like a cold grey dawn. Songwriting combined with acute covers to remind everyone where Jack came from and at the same time – evolving into the future based on the past.
6. Jim Cuddy Band
Canadian music is filled with roots. Country, Folk and Blues intertwined with the vast landscape of Canada looming in the background like a canvas painted by the Group of Seven. Add Jim Cuddy, Barney Bentall and Jim’s two up and coming sons – the evening was as pure as pure could be. Every artist on stage taking turns in the spotlight showcasing their ability to headline on their own. Jim Cuddy has assembled a dream band to distract from his Blue Rodeo job. Not a bad side gig.
5. Jordan Officer
Quebec’s own Jordan Officer has made the leap. Opening up for one of his boyhood idols, Officer more than held his own as the opener for George Thorogood. Those in attendance unfamiliar with the most talented guitar player in Quebec and student of the Blues left with a deer-in-the-headlights look on their faces.The trio combined with Officer’s ability to play guitar unlike all Blues players in the province ( fiddle as well), elevated music to an entire different level. Rarely does an opening act place immense pressure on the headliner. Thorogood and his Destroyers must have been shaking in their boots.
4. Steven Wilson
Cut from the Prog Rock cloth – Wilson (known mainly for his band Porcupine Tree) is a man who makes Dave Grohl appear talent-less. Mainstream gravitates towards the flavor of the moment and those willing to sell their souls. Wilson is a true artist along the lines of Brian Wilson (albeit in a different genre). An Engineer, a producer, a multi instrumentalist and a premiere songwriter who avoids the fame. His band – oozing musical integrity like a bleeding Van Gogh. Balladry interrupting perfectly crafted instrumental based high caliber Rock with a toe inside the Prog. A must see for all music fans.
3. Cecile Mclorin Salvant
If Cecile had arrived on the scene forty or fifty years ago, she would be revered like Etta James, Billie Holiday and Etta James (to name a few). Blessed with the voice of several angels – Salvant’s range is second to none. A no frills performer who sings for the right reasons. Combining the sweetness of honey and the strength of a whiskey straight up,Cecile’s performance as part of the Jazz Festival was an evening for purists. Salvant did not disappoint.
2. Beth Hart
Honesty is the best policy. Beth Hart is the most down to Earth raw female performer on the planet. Then she takes that integrity and sings with the same convictions. Listening to Hart is almost like witnessing an accident on the side of the road that never happens. Akin to Keith Richards’ about to fall down walk – Hart invites concern. Once she stops running and drops the scissors – the most natural voice in the universe becomes the star. Blues, Rock and Jazz-inspired tunes fill the night with wonderment. Talent oozes down the aisles as Hart follows the notes into the audience with love and appreciation. An interactive experience with Hart’s vulnerabilities as the headliner.
Montreal’s Queen of Jazz put on the most memorable performance this city has maybe ever seen. The day before her appearance at the Montreal international Jazz Festival – Ranee lost her musical muse and husband. A devastating moment for anyone and a life altering moment.
Under extreme emotional circumstances – Ranee decided the show must go on as her husband Richard would have wanted.
Any show completed would have gained a standing ovation due to the circumstances. Heartbreak on the sleeves and a hole in the heart can be the wind that pushes the tightrope walker off the thin line. A musical death would have been accepted without critique.
Ranee reached deep. Ranee reached long. Ranee reached hard. As if Richard was seated next to her – Lee put on the performance of a lifetime. Holiday, James, Washington – the ladies of Lee’s youth appeared live through Ranee’s vocals. The strength and the power increasing as the night went on. Lee’s passion for the history and the music growing stronger as the mountain of grief lay before her. The stamina not giving in to the tiredness she felt. The glow of her husband leading the way like the star of a musical Bethlehem guiding Ranee’s soul through the dark.
One evening when the realities of life could not be avoided changed The Montreal International Jazz Festival into a mystical place. One woman who took on the realities of life with courage transformed The Montreal International Jazz festival into Magic.