The rise of The Lumineers was nothing short of meteoric. Their first headlining visit to Montreal was a show at Metropolis that sold out in minutes, and this, their second, is the Bell Centre, either sold out, or close to it. The juggernaut shows no sign of slowing down yet.
South Carolina’s Susto open the show, and their brand of AOR is pretty well attended and well received for a 7pm support slot, a fact which is not lost on the band themselves. Frontman Justin Osborne exclaims midway through, “Montreal, thanks for spending time with us!!!”
The reaction for Iceland’s Kaleo, though, is off the scale in comparison. Indeed, just the sight of the banner unfurling at the back of the stage elicits huge cheers around the venue, soon followed by an even bigger roar when the lights drop. A fairly anti-climactic entrance follows, as some technical issues lead to the band basically standing around on the stage for a few minutes as frontman JJ Julius Son plays odd notes and a roadie fiddles with his plugs and sockets.
Not quite the start they were hoping for, but the delay clearly doesn’t dampen the mood as the roadie departs and the crowd roars yet again. The moody, bluesy I Can’t Go On Without You kicks things off, before current single All The Pretty Girls follows, in truly epic manner. It’s a powerful, stripped-down, emotive song on record, with vocal fragilities a little like Skinny Love by Bon Iver, but live, it’s just incredible. You’d think the Bell Centre would suck the life out of it, but quite the contrary happens. Lighters and phone lights flicker into life right off the bat, from the floor to the cheap seats and JJ sings the piercing chorus “won’t you lay me, won’t you lay me down” accompanied by huge portions of the crowd, and in this moment it’s not hard to imagine Kaleo headlining a place this big in the not-too-distant future. Truly epic stuff, and you start to wonder how The Lumineers are possibly going to follow this.
The pace picks up on Broken Bones, with a stomping beat and a very Southern vibe, and keeps up through No Good and Hot Blood, and audience clapalongs abound throughout. Way Down We Go sees a return to the laid-back blues, before the rock n roll resumes with Ladies Man. Every single song is received rapturously, and JJ emphatically proclaims “Montreal, the best crowd we’ve seen so far this tour!” We are treated to one final rock-out in the form of Rock ‘n’ Roller, before the band depart to standing ovations around the arena after 35 minutes that absolutely raced by. There’s an overwhelming sense that this is a band who should be playing for much longer than that, and from the crowd’s reaction tonight, they surely will the next time they take to a stage in Montreal.
Kaleo Set List
I Can’t Go On Without You
All The Pretty Girls
Way Down We Go
Rock ‘n’ Roller
Yep, the bar has been set pretty high for The Lumineers tonight. Artwork from the current Cleopatra record flashes on the dark stage backdrop, before suddenly the stage springs to life with the upbeat twinkling keys of Submarines, played by illuminated frontman Wesley Schultz. The stage progressively lights up more and more to reveal the rest of the band, and immediately dive into Flowers In Your Hair after a brief “Bon soir, thank you so much!” Breakthrough single Ho Hey follows, providing the next lighters-in-the-air moment of the show, though bizarrely, not quite as epic as Kaleo’s (perhaps it would have been if played at the end of the show…seems a perfect set closer to me!). Still, the crowd loves it, and everyone is on their feet singing pretty quickly. A thunderous Cleopatra keeps everyone on their feet and adds dancing to the equation, before a moving Gun Song and Dead Sea follows.
Wesley then explains how “not long ago, we were playing to people in living rooms, so this is a big room for us! We wanna make it feel small again, we’re gonna play a couple songs in the middle.” With that, the band de-camps to a small raised stage in the middle of the floor section, and it’s a master stroke, making those in the back corners of the Bell Centre suddenly feel like they’re in prime seats (myself included!). As they roll through 4 stripped-down songs on this mini-stage (Classy Girls, Where the Skies Are Blue, Charlie Boy, and Slow It Down), the band members get progressively fewer, culminating in just Wesley and drummer/percussionist Jeremiah Fraites on the moving Slow It Down. Another lighter-in-the-air moment ensues, this time rivalling, if not surpassing, Kaleo’s from earlier on. Wesley salutes the crowd once more, before the band heads back to the main stage.
After Sleep On The Floor and Angela get the band back into full swing, a pounding bass drum leads into the piano to ignite recent single Ophelia, and voices echo around the arena in harmony with Wesley on that unmistakable chorus. Wesley heads back into the crowd for the second verse, roaming the floor section as he sings, and reaches the Red section of seating at centre ice! No mean feat!
Big Parade sees Wesley jokingly change the lyrics from “Blue eyed boy, United States, vote for him, the candidate” to “DIDN’T vote for him…”, much to the amusement of the crowd, who initiate a huge clap-along to close out the song which culminates with a huge explosion of confetti as the final note rings out. The band then huddles together closely at the front for a stripped-down cover of Tom Petty’s Walls which provides yet another stirring moment, before My Eyes and Patience conclude the main set, the latter consisting of just Jeremiah and a piano solo.
Wesley is the first out for the encore, and he adds an extended intro to Long Way From Home that didn’t make the studio version. Just Wesley and an acoustic guitar are present on stage for the whole song, before the rest of the band return for a storming cover of Subterranean Homesick Blues by Bob Dylan, sounding much more expansive than the original with the added Cello and Piano; an excellent reinterpretation.
Wesley then humbly addresses the crowd for the last time: “Thank you all! We’re not here because of anything we did, but because you supported us.” The crowd roars in response to confirm that this support is unwavering, indeed, stronger than ever after tonight’s showing. The beautiful Stubborn Love is the band’s parting gift, before they leave the stage for good after a grand 90 minute show. Somehow, The Lumineers managed to bring both small-venue intimacy and stadium grandiosity to a venue sized somewhere in between, and in conjunction with some seriously strong support, undoubtedly provided a highlight of the 2017 gig calendar so far.
Lumineers Set List
Flowers in Your Hair
Where the Skies Are Blue
Slow It Down
Sleep on the Floor
Long Way From Home
Subterranean Homesick Blues
Review and photos – Simon WilliamsShare this :