Saturday night was an important one for two reasons. One is that it was the inaugural show at Montreal’s latest concert space called Theatre Symposia. Theatre Symposia is right in the heart of downtown situated on Sherbrooke in between Metcalfe and Mansfield and is an intimate venue with 730 seats with state of the art sound. An added bonus is that there is free underground parking included in the price of your ticket. No circling and circling to find parking. The second was that it was the 40th birthday of Canadian singer/songwriter Chantal Kreviazuk. Now, you might be wondering why I mention these two seemingly incongruous events is because they came together in an act of perfect kismet on a lovely Saturday evening in Montreal.
If you are an appreciator of musical talent then the next time Chantal Kreviazuk comes to town run do not walk to procure tickets to the show. She is one of the rare musicians who sound better live than she does on her CDs. And Chantal does so with an ease that is breathtaking. With her melodic yet complex piano playing (this time round she was accompanied on stage by cellist Kevin Fox and violinist Karen Graves), her emotion and powerful voice, well-constructed lyrics, and chatty and funny on stage demeanour she is the total package. The vocal range of this gal really is astonishing as she is equally adept singing in her natural range or going up higher or lower as the song calls for.
That shivers inducing voice sometimes overshadows her talent as a pianist. Situated in the front row on the left hand side, I was in a perfect position to take in all she does on the piano. Anyone who is familiar with Chantal knows that she is a classically trained pianist, but it is not until you see her play and even more so if you have the opportunity to see it up close that you realize the complexity of what she is doing. She is not just playing simple chords rather the woman gives you the experience of hearing a complete orchestra with one instrument such is the depth of her playing.
As this is a brand spanking new venue it was not surprising that there were some hiccups. In the beginning the bass was up too high and then towards the end a speaker could be heard crackling in between songs. Chantal was giving all the equipment a full testing and work out.
There is no doubting her ear as she has a talent for writing some very catchy songs (she has written/co-written songs for the likes of Pitbull, Drake, Kelly Clarkson, Josh Groban, and Gwen Stefani), but what sets her apart from other artists is the emotion she pour into her songs and then pours out of her when she performs them. There is not a fake moment to be found in a Chantal Kreviazuk concert. A couple of fans yelled out a request for the song “Wayne” off of her first album, Under These Rocks and Stones, and while she reluctantly played it Chantal did say that she does not play it anymore as she is not emotionally connected to it as it is not about anyone and (in a demonstration of her sense of humour) it was an awful video.
What might surprise some who have not really followed her career is that multiple Juno Award-winner Chantal Kreviazuk is a funny lady. I’m sure that most think of her as depressed and intense due to her songs, but while she is intense there is a very funny side to her as well. Throughout the 2 hour and 15 minute show she injected plenty of laughs courtesy of the stories she told in between songs. Nice casual rapport with the audience. Those in attendance showed their appreciation for Chantal by singing “Happy Birthday” and “Bonne Fete” on several occasions throughout the show. She is real and that is what many love about her.
1) Wonderful (with snippets of Pitbull and Christina Aguilera song “Feel This Moment” that Chantal co-wrote)
4) In This Life
5) Feels Like Home (Randy Newman cover)
6) 5000 Days
7) Before You
8) Isobel (by Karen Graves)
9) Sweet Dreams (Eurythmics cover by Kevin Fox)
11) Ghosts of You
12) Far Away
13) The Way
14) Wayne (by request)
15) Wild Horses (Rolling Stones cover)
16) Need Anyone
17) Unrecorded new song
18) I Love You
19) Leaving on a Jet Plane (John Denver cover)
20) All I Can Do