Before I begin, I just want to apologize for the tardiness of this post. I went to see Keren Ann at the Montreal Jazz Festival (more on that next week) this past Monday night. I had intended to write about her for Music Monday – you know, do what I usually do, write the post a day late and then pre-date it – but instead I got tied up with my sewing lessons (naturally, I thought I could pull a few strings and get everything done, but I was stretched in every direction and there wasn’t a thread I could grasp). Regardless, I didn’t get the post done in time, and for that I apologize.
BUT you should have seen them! Keren Ann and her two musicians came to two guitars (an electric, and an acoustic electric) and a trumpet, but if you closed your eyes and just listened, you would have thought they had more instruments than the Arcade Fire (okay, maybe not that many, but you get the point). Never have I heard such smooth, heartfelt music. The two guitars complimented each other, and the trumpet stood out when needed, but mostly blended pleasantly into the background, providing depth to the music and, through the use of an effects peddle and mute, emitting sounds I never knew could come from a brass instrument. I was not the only one who appreciated the incredible skill of Keren Ann’s trumpeter (whose name I have been unable to find). The bearded man (who, disregarding the beard, I think looked a lot like Matt Smith) received resounding applause after some particularly poignant solos, and he smiled shyly at the crowd, unwillingly to flaunt his talent. Keren Ann, for her part, graciously shared the stage with her two backing musicians, applauding both of them herself and even giving them center stage for their solos. It was an incredible experience watching the three of them work together – worth every penny I paid of the reasonably low $32. And at the end of the night, the crowd responded – giving them not one, not two, but three standing ovations – one after their initial performance, one after their encore, and one more after Keren Ann had l’Astral (the venue) turn off all the lights in the place and she sang a Capella into the mic for her final chanson. It was a magnificent performance.
Now that I’ve finished my rant on how incredible Keren Ann and her band was, I should mention the opener. Chris Garneau “just got here 25 minutes ago from Los Angeles” he told us, after jumping right into his emotional performance on the piano, “I’m sweaty…and don’t really know what to play.” Someone from the crowd interrupted him, “You’re incredible!” a few others chimed in, “You’re amazing!” “Beautiful!” This sums up the crowd’s general feeling towards Chris. He walked on stage wearing a brown ribbed tank top, looking disheveled and a little lost, but the moment his fingers touched the keys of the shiny black Yamaha Grand, we were in for a treat – I knew it, and so did everyone else. With a voice reminiscent of Colin Meloy of the Decembrists, Chris sang about lost love and serial killers, and the audience lost themselves in his performance. I was fortunate enough to sit where I could see his fingers on the keys, and I felt hypnotized by them throughout his performance. Every person in the room was disappointed when Chris Garneau left the stage, but then, as he said, we got an incredible replacement: “The Beautiful Keren Ann”.
See Chris Garneau’s whimsical Ocarina of Time-esque video, “Fireflies” below, as well as a live version of “Hands on the Radio” and pictures from the concert I saw on Monday.