Helena Deland Concert Review
We know that Helena was born in Quebec, but if I was to venture a guess to narrow it down, I would guess she was born on a stage.
Tonight’s stage at the Fairmount Theatre was her home, and the audience in front of her, her friends. Helena seems to have a lot of friends, and I can see why. Before her set, as she is setting up her pedals, she sees one of the many friends supporting her and proceeds to jump off stage and envelop her friend in a bear hug. There was no barrier between artist and spectators, it was just one big happy family.
M for Montreal is the occasion, a showcase of local and international buzz-worthy artists. There was quite an amount of buzz, judging from the lineup to get in, halfway into the set of Tess Roby (Montreal).
One of the organizers of M for Montreal, at Casa del Popolo a few nights prior, described Helena a gem.
I would describe her as Black Opal. On the surface, you might perceive some melancholy from the songs, a Canadian Lana Del Rey type of vibe. The Black Opal gem is not black, as the name suggests, but bursting with various colors. The same is true with Helena’s music. It is bursting with amazing emotional colors.
My public transportation adventure caused me some delays but also gave me an alternative party to attend, if my concert did not live up to its expectations. The stairway lineup told me that I would not be joining my newfound bus buddies and would instead be in for quite a night.
I only was able to catch 2 songs from Tess Roby, but it was clear that this other Montrealer was a perfect opener for the main event.
Tess was joined by a guitarist and had quite a large crowd listening attentively. Her voice is deep but fit in well with the accompaniment of the music. It created the perfect atmosphere for the evening.
Before Helena took the stage, battery powered tealight candles were setup along the edge of the stage. Within this intimate setting, Helena came out, dressed in white, while her band chose the dark side of the force, clothing wise.
The last time and the first time I saw Helene Deland play was at this summer’s Mile Ex End Festival, during a torrential downpour. She remembered that day, as she signed both copies of her “Altogether Unaccompanied” vinyl set for my collection. She was happy that tonight, I was dry. I had forgotten about the rain, only remembering the pleasure I had hearing her play. Helena can’t control the weather, but when she plays, you can forget about it, at least for a little while.
Our first major snowfall was the weather she attracted for her show, and a whole room of friends would have trekked through far worse to be here tonight, I felt.
She started with a solo, followed by her band who played with a passion for the music. You could see Agathe on bass feeling the songs as she swayed in and out to the beat of Francis on drums bringing a solid rhythm. Alexandre on guitar would complete the aural journey of Helena’s guitar to wrap around her soft and irresistible voice.
“Body Language” is the song that most stuck in my mind, the day after. I found myself singing “I can’t talk to you/Something happens when I try to.” I didn’t hear the contraction, so I will not be singing this to my wife, unfortunately.
Helena would bounce around while playing, a smile on her face as she no doubt recognized so many friends supporting her.
“Take it All”, “Claudion” and an energetic version of “Baby” along with some of the other songs made for an evening that we did not want to end.
About two thirds into the set, ninja’s unexplainedly proceeded to gather all the tealights and place them in two bags at the feet of Helena. Helena did not have to fight these stealers of light, but simply played her heart out and defeated these candle hungry ninjas back to their dark Dojo.
After a brief encore, the last notes were played and the evening ended. Despite the late hour, people did not seem to want to leave. Minutes later, Helena jumped back onto the stage and announced that it was not over, but DJ Ouri would play a set.
Helena then jumped onto the dancefloor, still full of energy, dancing to the after-party songs. It wasn’t long before longtime friends surrounded her to wish her well and say their goodbyes.
The crowd outside was numerous and it felt that everyone wanted this night to last longer.
Having missed the Metro deadline, I requested my Uber and made my way home. I had the strangest dreams that night, yet they were filled with goodness. That is Helena’s power. Her songs will make a nest in your brain and those songs will fly around, exploring happy memories you have kept locked inside and may have forgotten.
I can’t promise you will unlock the power of your dreams, but if you give a listen to Helena Deland, you will understand why we would listen gleefully in the pouring rain to hear her sunshine of a voice.