I live right by the venue and can tell you that people started lining up for this sold out show at around 10 in the morning. Dedicated fans! The line was around the block by 6 pm (an hour before the scheduled time for the doors to open) indicating that this was a highly anticipated show. Not surprising as this Canadian act’s show at the Corona (750 capacity) was sold out.
We would have to wait a while for Lights. Not because she was pulling a Rihanna (who has been starting concerts late on her latest tour), but because there were two opening acts. Starting very promptly at 8 pm was Rich Aucoin, who was wearing a Lights tshirt. Though I wasn’t really a fan of the music he did bring out lots of visuals to keep me entertained. A large glow stick in his hand, a giant screen with visuals behind him including names of audience members, a confetti gun that he shot while in the middle of the crowd on the floor, and a giant parachute that he put out in the audience. He really interacted with the audience which was cool because you don’t always see that with today’s acts. His 30 minute set was full of energy and the crowd really got going.
Next up was the five-man band Nightbox. The dance-rock band is originally from Ireland and now call Toronto home. It’s been a long time since I have been so won over by an opening act (maybe since I saw Lights open up for Keane a few years back). Their music is a body moving combination of 80’s synth music with some post punk sensibilities. Think of Devo, but heavier. Whatever you want to categorize it as I ate it up with a spoon. To win me over even more they did a funky cover of Paul Simon’s “You Can Call Me Al”. Forty-five minutes of fun!
Finally at 9:55 p.m. our patience was rewarded as the petite 24-year-old Lights (changed name legally from her birth name of Valerie Boxleitner) took the stage. Not only did she take the stage, but the hearts and ears of each member of the sold out crowd. From the opening notes of the song “Banner” from her recently released sophomore album Siberia we were all in love. Guys, girls, it didn’t matter. Guys want to be her boyfriend and girls want to be her. Lights is the total package. She plays guitar and all kinds of keyboards (though disappointingly she did not touch or play her keytar on this evening), writes her own music, has her own label, is an artist who has produced a few lithographs that fans can buy, has great hair with that severe side part, is a big gamer, has a multitude of tattoos, and a style all her own.
With the state of today’s pop music being what it is it is refreshing to go and see a young artist who can sing without the benefit of Auto-Tune, backup dancers and choreography, or lip-synching the entire show (hello, Brittany). This was all about the songs and Lights talent. And the love fest she had going with the young crowd. Not really one to chat with the crowd too much, Lights herself had to break out into huge smiles a couple of times during the evening because of the overwhelming love and energy she was getting from the crowd. When she said the usual “Montreal is one of my favourite places to play” you didn’t roll your eyes as you felt she really must mean it based on the adoration the crowd was continuously heaping on her. How could she feel otherwise?
Despite the fact that she is so young Lights has plenty of experience playing live. She has done the 2010 Lilith Fair tour, Osheaga, played sets at the Warped Tour, opened for Keane on the Canadian leg of their 2009 tour, did short UK and US tours, opened for Canadian rock band Hedley, and toured across Canada several times. She is completely natural on stage in a kind of nerdy, gamer (she is heavy into gaming as illustrated by the fact that she introduced the song “Lions” as a song she wrote about World of Warcraft) kind of way. When she is not in front of her various keyboards or playing guitar she bounces around the stage in that cute kind of way a kid with too much energy would. Totally endearing.
Despite the fact that she is an electro-pop act Lights can sing. She has a nice big voice that she can use in almost any way from breathy to soaring. She sounds better live than she does on her recordings because she can freestyle and let go a little more.
Recently the Corona Theatre on Notre Dame in Little Burgandy was purchased by Evenko and they have put some money into a new sound system and renovating the bar. It was my first show there and it was totally enjoyable. All the sight lines are great and clear (though I admit I did not go upstairs) and the sound was clear. With that plus the proximity to the artist (Lights was within inches of the crowd when she came out from behind her stack of keyboards) it is a great place to see a live show and I definitely will be looking forward to my next one there.
- 1) Banner
- 2) Second Go
- 3) Ice
- 4) My Boots
- 5) February Air
- 6) Flux and Flow
- 7) Everybody Breaks a Glass
- 8) And Counting…
- 9) Quiet
11) The Last Thing On Your Mind
13) Where the Fence is Low
16) Cactus in the Valley