Review of the Montreal International Jazz Festival performance by Bahamas & Emilie Kahn.
I asked for Bahamas because Ryan of Guster spoke so highly of him during our interview.
When Emilie asked to play the harp at school, she was given a recorder and told it would be too hard and she could never learn. She went out, purchased her own harp and found someone to give her lessons. She proved them wrong!
When Emilie’s parents told me this story, you could see the pride in their eyes. Since this was intermission after her performance, I could see why they were so proud.
I went from disappointment, when I saw a harp on stage, to awe, when she took control of the instrument she calls “Ogden.”
The stage was very dark, with soft lights. Emilie’s profile just barely visible. It matches her personality well. She is reserved, in person, but when she talks about her music, you can see the glow of confidence come from within.
The fact that she changed her band from Emilie and Ogden to Emilie Kahn tells me that she is no longer hiding behind the harp but using the harp to highlight her voice.
A song like “Swimmer” starts with the whimsical harp sound, but it’s Emilie’s voice that quickly fills the auditorium. It’s soft, but strong, weaving around the harp sounds.
Emilie will use samplers and change tuning on the fly for some songs. One missed tuning and a song could be ruined.
Emilie played songs like “Ten Thousand” off her first album 10 000 along with many songs from the latest release Outro, which I purchased on vinyl.
The band left her solo for songs like “What Happened” and “Aquarium.” Alone on the stage, she shined…all the while being in the dark.
The band returned for one of my favorites “Three” which really had a great energy.
“Horse” was another great indie sounding song that was played at the end.
I have to say…Emilie may have changed my mind about the harp, but it’s more about the way she never lets the instrument overpower her voice.
Alfie Jurvanen (Bahamas) took the stage and the crowd’s hearts all at once.
Bahamas has a great singing voice, catchy songs and a clean guitar sound with no hint of a fuzz pedal. To be honest, although I could recognize the talent and charisma…I simply wasn’t into it. But I was probably the only one in the whole theatre to sport that opinion. Don’t get me wrong…it was a stellar performance and I really enjoyed his in between banter…it was charming. But this isn’t about me…it’s about the fans that were there and how they enjoyed it.
The fans certainly cheered for “No Wrong” which was a crowd favorite.
For “Can’t Take You With Me”, the talented Christine Bougie brought out the lap steel, giving us that Country vibe.
Alfie reminisced about the last time he played in the big brother venue Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier, with Robert Plant for the 2011 Montreal International Jazz Festival. He enjoys playing these types of rooms as he can pull out the deep cuts, such as the one “about my dad and other things” titled “Bad Boys Need Love Too.”
Alfie is not afraid to bring some high caliber musicians to the table. During one long jam, you could really hear the talent of the band. Felicity Williams elicited cheers because of the insane notes she would hit on certain occasions.
Alfie announced that they would play one more song “Lost In The Light”, then they were contractually obligated to walk off the stage, to where the mops and brooms were…wait 15 seconds…then come back out to outrageous cheering. Hilarious.
Some couples could be seen dancing in the aisles, lost in the music. As the song ended…he said: “See you in 10 seconds!” and walked off into the broom filled backstage.
The crowd gave them a standing ovation.
When he returned, he told the story of seeing Prince play at MTelus. Alfie wasn’t sure how much he would be able to see of Prince’s performance, being he arrived about an hour after Prince started. But alas, Prince played 31 songs, which consisted of 7 encores! He didn’t stay till the end, being drained from his own performance earlier. He was however impressed by the stamina and energy of Prince. He also related how the first encore was about 45 minutes of waiting while people in the audience went nuts. He didn’t expect the same patience from this audience, but then again…only Prince can command cheering for 45 minutes between sets.
Bahamas started the encore with “Way With Words.”
He then played a random cord that made him smile. He explained that this chord which he calls “Misty Morning.” This intro led to “All The Time.”
He next channeled Freddie Mercury with his half-length mic stand to end with “Any Place.”
I think the last three songs well describes Bahamas. He has a way with words, all the time, in any place.
This venue allowed him to bring out the deeper cuts and take advantage of the acoustics of the room. The second standing ovation showed that Bahamas delivered a performance worthy of the Jazz Festival stage.
Photos: Eric BrissonShare this :