In the last 24 hours, I’ve gone from sipping caipirinha’s on Copacabana Beach in blazing hot sunshine, to driving around Montreal construction detours in a sub-zero snowfall. The only thing that makes this transition somewhat bearable is the very reason I chose this date for my return flight; the first headline show by Brooklyn’s Grizzly Bear for over 5 years (their last visit was in September 2012, at Olympia, to be precise). A packed-out MTelus suggests I’m not the only one excited about this!
The house music promptly cuts out at 9:10pm in conjunction with the house lights, and Grizzly Bear take to the stage in total darkness and silence, save for the cheers of the crowd greeting them. A spooky metronomic beat whirrs into life as the stage lights up a dim blue, and the set opens with three cuts from acclaimed new record Painted Ruins, in the form of Four Cypresses, Losing All Sense, and the upbeat Cut-Out. After an emphatic “Merci Montreal!!!”, the epic Yet Again explodes into life, sounding every bit as grandiose in a live setting as you would expect from the recorded versions. The same can be said of the timeless Ready, Able and Sleeping Ute, which follow shortly after.
The haunting Spanish guitar-esque outro of Sleeping Ute fizzles out and is swiftly replaced by the thumping beat of new song Mourning Sound, and you realize what a solid discography Grizzly Bear have put together over the years, as great song follows great song relentlessly. The familiar piano intro of Two Weeks is greeted with the biggest cheers yet, as heads bob up and down furiously around the room, the closest thing you’ll get to a mosh pit at a Grizzly Bear show.
They pay tribute to their first Montreal show at Club Lambi with Owen Pallett in 2006 with a song from that era, On A Neck, On A Spit, which begins in mellow mood before mutating into a frantic finale, before the pace drops again on the atmospheric Foreground, as lines of spotlights bathe the stage in a pattern resembling strands of DNA. Three Rings and the goosebump-inducing While You Wait For The Others close out the main set spectacularly, joining that category of epic-songs-sounding-more-epic-live that they have absolutely nailed tonight.
Upon returning to the stage for a 2-song encore, the band proclaim “this is the most spirit Montreal has ever given us! Thanks for making it snow too!” Bassist Chris Taylor wields a clarinet on Shift, and then a saxophone on Sun In Your Eyes, adding further dimensions to the already multi-dimensional sound, as one final explosive chorus reverberates around MTelus to wrap up 90 truly wonderful minutes, definitely worth coming back from vacation a day early for. Who needs sun and caipirinhas anyway?!
Losing All Sense
Fine for Now
On A Neck, On A Spit
While You Wait for the Others
Sun in Your Eyes
Review – Simon Williams
Photos – Thomas Bock