Patrick Watson – Metropolis, Montreal – 18th December 2015

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Tonight sees Patrick Watson wrap up his 2015 with the last of three shows at Montreal’s iconic Metropolis venue, meaning he’s played to well over 6000 people in his home town this week. After years of groundbreaking albums and truly unique live performances, Watson, who also won the 2007 Polaris Music Prize for his Close to Paradise album, seems to have completely won over the city he calls home.

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The evening begins quietly as a near-dark stage welcomes a host of silhouetted figures, one of whom takes his seat at the piano as the musicians around him begin Love Song For Robots, the opening from Watson’s most recent album of the same name. The sounds build gently and the song slowly begins to soar before the album’s second track, Good Morning Mr Wolf, takes things up a notch as the curtain above the stage rises completely to reveal a “sky” full of 8 foot high spherical screens, adding to the other-worldliness of the music.

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Watson jokes that we should be out watching Star Wars on its opening night but is grateful to see another packed room before him. Hearts gets the audience moving a little, its bouncing guitar refrain lifting the mood before the dramatic Bollywood takes us back to the melancholic ebb and flow of much of his work. A mystical In Circles is complemented beautifully by a lazer show that fills the entire room. Many songs segue into one another and it’s the gentler moments that make the louder parts of the show all the more intense. Grace seems to soar to new levels, Watson’s vocals showcased brilliantly.

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It has to be mentioned that, although the sign outside reads “Patrick Watson”, it’s more than evident how much the sound also relies on the talents of those around him. And there are plenty around him! When the time comes to introduce his band, he’s aided by a list of names written down, and as it’s the final show, he makes sure he thanks his tour manager, the sound guy, designers and the person in charge of the amazing light show.

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Most of the main set draws from Love Song For Robots. It’s clear Watson is understandably proud of the album. However, his earlier work sounds every inch as impressive. The beautiful Man Like You is a highlight.

During Turn Into The Noise he encourages the crowd to sing the melody as his falsetto dances over the pulsating rhythm. Adventures In Your Own Backyard ends the main set seemingly all too soon but those 70 minutes flew by as we were all captivated by the creativity before us.

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It’s not long before the stage is full once more, with guitarist Joe Grass and drummer Robbie Kuster now adorning impressive neon-banded outfits more suited to a Daft Punk video for Know That You Know. Beijing, taken from 2009’s Wooden Arms album, gives the musicians chance to show off a little before Man Under The Sea sees Watson and Grass stood right in the middle of the crowd, Watson singing the words through a megaphone as he conducts his audience who join in for the chorus’ sing-song refrain.

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The night closes perfectly with the stunning Lighthouse, Watson back behind the piano. “Turn all these crazy lights off” he demands and continues to play in total darkness. It’s a haunting finale and takes us to the climax of an evening of superb music and musicianship. Patrick Watson may draw comparisons as wide ranging as Jeff Buckley and Pink Floyd but in reality there’s nobody quite like him. He’s forging his own path and, now that he’s won over Montreal, we can only hope that the rest of the world will be next.

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This particular Friday night ends with a busker outside Metropolis with a crowd of people quickly gathering around him. Megaphone in hand, portable sound system strapped to his back…. the man with his name on the front of the venue behind him doesn’t want this night to end just yet!

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Setlist:
Love Song For Robots
Good Morning Mr Wolf
Hearts
Bollywood
In Circles
Grace
Into Giants
Man Like You
Places You Will Go
Turn Into The Noise
Adventures In Your Own Backyard
_______________________________
Know That You Know
Beijing
Man Under The Sea
Lighthouse

Review & photos – Steve Gerrard

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