On the opening night (and an unseasonably warm one for February) of Montreal en Lumiere a Canadian artist who has managed to maintain a career throughout marriage, having three kids, without touring for many years, and dealing without having a major label behind her anymore proceeded to produce something that was as close to real magic that I have ever seen or heard in my life. It was a rare night of music and even Chantal Kreviazuk had to acknowledge that.
Chantal, Kevin Fox on cello and a large grand piano is all it took – meaning no pyrotechnics, fancy lighting, background dancers or gigantic video screens – to keep hundreds of music fans silently taking in all that was happening. At times the silence and attention on the part of the crowd was so loud it was startling. We all sat there in rapt of her talent as a singer, songwriter, storyteller, speaker, and piano player. The lady has always known how to pull in her audience making it a collaborative type experience. She allows a connection to happen through her talking to the audience and unveiling her thoughts and emotions through her songs. Not frightened of this at all.
In between most songs she went on sometimes long chats about the her life, her political views, marriage, family, songwriting, and the songs themselves. These moments, which some might find excessive, really allow you insight into the artist, person, mother, and songs. All this does is bring some more depth and colour to songs you might have heard hundreds of times before.
One such moment was before she sang the song “I Will Be” from Hard Sail. Explaining that she was in a rather dark place because of a tragedy that had occurred in her life this song sprung forth. At that time she was in the process of writing songs for other artists. When “I Will Be” was done she wondered who in the pop world could handle a song like this. Pink sprung to mind so she emailed her and sent her a demo of the song. Within minutes Pink wrote her back saying she wanted the song. Some time later Kreviazuk realized that she did not want to give the song away and contacted Pink asking for the song back. She said Pink was very sweet and gave it back without a word of protest. Though she joked that she has not heard from her since.
Kreviazuk has toured through most of Canada throughout the fall and winter in support of her first album in seven (long) years, Hard Sail. It is an independently released album. Most of the setlist was comprised of songs from that Juno nominated album. Her passion of what she is singing is evident. And that voice! Powerful! Even more so in this small venue. The voice flowed over you. Completely enveloping you.
She is not dummy and knows that many come to her shows wanting to hear “Leaving on a Jet Plane” and “Feels Like Home”, so she gave that to us. At a certain point she sat there as fans yelled out song requests. Despite the fact that she notoriously can’t always remember her own lyrics, Kreviazuk tried to satisfy some of her fans by playing the shouted out songs. Songs like “Eve”, “Invincible” and “Ghost of You” are examples of this. The setlist seemed like a rather loosey goosey affair. She had one written out but did deviate several times because she was digging the crowd as much as they her.
Setlist (not in order):
Meant for This
I Will Be
Feels Like Home
Leaving on a Jet Plane
Daydreaming (Radiohead cover)
All I Can Do
All I Got
Ghost of You
Snowing in the Desert
I Love You
Hallelujah (Leonard Cohen cover)