John Jacob Magistery + guests @ Le Bleury-Bar à Vinyle, Montreal – 20th April 2015

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Montreal is a busy city. One can easily find something to do any day of the week. Restaurants, bars, theatres and concert venues offer enough variety to satisfy just about anyone looking to experience something special. That being said, rainy Mondays do still tend to be pretty quiet in this city. Thankfully, April 20th had something very special in store for a select few.

On that Monday I was fortunate enough to get to experience another fantastic performance by John Jacob Magistery. What made this particular event special was that the opening acts and location were kept secret. Only those following instructions on the band’s Facebook page were able to submit their email addresses and were informed of the details the morning of the show.

The location turned out to be Le Bleury-Bar à Vinyle. The selection of this particular venue was perfect. The tiny stage elevated the musicians above the crowd just enough to give everyone in the packed room a good view all while conserving the warmth and intimacy of the setting.

The room was filled with equal numbers of fans, friends and family. There were three opening acts, each performing a single song. As the openers were all gifted musicians in their own rights I would have liked to get a little more from each however. If anything, the tease of a single song from each provided more motivation to seek each of them out independantly.

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Taking the stage first was Bud Rice. The singer/songwriter certainly captured the crowd, setting a warm and laid back mood that was the perfect start to the evening.
Bud recently launched his debut album, titled Belfast, and is a local performer that really should be followed closely. Catch his upcoming set at Folke Fest sur le Canal on Sunday, June 21st at 15h30.

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Bud Rice was then joined on stage by Hallie Gyles. Hallie is a member of The Fall Line who were recently announced as the Montreal winners of the CBC Searchlight competition. Hallie’s voice has a haunting and soulful essence that absolutley demands your full attention. She and Bud delivered a wonderfully intense performance. Their styles and talents certainly complimented each other very well. It would have been nice to hear more. Hopefully we’ll have the chance to do so in the very near future.

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Third up was Joshua Carey. Joshua is the front man of Po Lazarus, yet another Montreal band that really should be followed very closely. Joshua’s performance was fantastic. With nothing more than his voice and his ukulele, he was able to absolutely fill the packed room with a truly original sound. Being able to perform with such intensity and feeling is special enough but to be able to convey his sense of humour while doing so is a rare talent.

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Headliners John Jacob Magistery were up next. Fronted by singer/songwriter Johnny Griffin, the band performed a moving and beautiful set. By this time the small venue was absolutely packed and and from the opening notes every single person’s face was covered in a smile; nobody was talking, nobody was ordering drinks, all attention was directed to the stage. They played all four songs from their amazing Narcissism Unto Loneliness EP as well as several more that I can’t wait to hear recorded.

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The band has just completed the recording of their first full length album which their website states will be available this fall. But, with any luck, we’ll be hearing some new releases before then as it was recently announced that the band won the Recording Festival Contest which will see them flying off to The Grouse Lodge recording studio in Ireland (Muse, Snow Patrol, Bloc, Party, Manic Street Preachers, REM, Michael Jackson!) to claim their prize of 14 days of recording. An amazing prize that couldn’t have gone to a more talented band. I’m looking forward to hearing more, whether it be live or recorded, I’ll take whatever I can get from this band.

Not bad for a wet Monday night in Montreal.

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Review & photos – Jason Hughes

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