cwne.JPG (6876 bytes)     Les Francofolies de Montreal


Axelle Red  

Bernard Lavilliers

Daniel Bélanger 



Hip Hop (La Nuit du)

Jean-Pierre Ferland

Jim Corcoran 

Juliette Greco 

Michel Rivard




Miro/ Annegarn ( Club Soda) 02/8/02

 En vedette américaine, l'auteur-compositeur et interprète funky Miro a exécuté une demi-douzaine de chansons. La voix était très souple, la technique guitaristique très bonne et la personnalité du lauréat français du Prix Félix-Leclerc 2001 est indéniable, forte et attachante, ce que la salle n'a pas manqué de souligner avec force applaudissements. Deux défauts cependant, corrigibles avec le temps et l'expérience : une diction quasi incompréhensible (même si on devinait un texte intelligent) et une musique paroxystique frisant ouvent l'ennui. L'artiste principal a suivi après une courte pause. Dick Annegarn est un Hollandais établi en France. Il a gardé de ses origines l'accent gras de la Flandre, comme on peut le retrouver un peu chez un Brel ou un Julos Beaucarne. Trois musiciens l'accompagnaient dans une instrumentation des plus originales : tuba, piano/claviers/violon et accordéon, donnant à l'ensemble une impression à la Piazzola. Les harmonies, torturées et tendres, étaient recherchées mais la note humoristique caractéristique de l'artiste laissait à désirer. Une voix chaude qui rappelle celle de Nougaro a fait que ce spectacle en valait la peine et l'on voudrait suivre l'évolution d'une personnalité qui ressort par son étrangeté et sa douceur tourmentée.

 Jean-Philippe Trottier (Bureau d'Artistes de Montréal)[back to top/ haut de page]

Jim Corcoran (Spectrum) 01/08/02

Regular listeners to the CBC Radio program À propos will be familiar with Jim Corcoran as its host for the past 15 years and a knowledgeable presenter of music by French-speaking artists. Better known in Quebec as an accomplished and respected composer, singer and songwriter in his own right, Corcoran has been touring la belle province for a year and a half, honing the songs that were performed at this concert with solid musicians Pierre Côté (guitar), Daniel Hubert (bass), and Francois Fillion (percussion), with back-up on some songs by Réjean Julien.         

Corcoran’s wry observations about himself and others provide rich fodder for his witty stage repartee, but his ascetic appearance belies the sensuality and emotional sensitivity of his lyrics. The same talent that distils the essence of French song lyrics in Corcoran’s English translations for À propos imbues his own compositions with a world of poetic meaning. 

The material performed showcased the variety in Corcoran’s output over a career spanning thirty years, from his folk roots to rock to country, with a bit of heavy metal and spoken word thrown in for good measure. The mood varied from an awed and sombre tribute to Gerry Roufs, who was lost at sea in 1997 during a solo attempt to sail around the south pole (L’aube tarde), to the satirical, raucous and fun (D’la bière au ciel, On aurait dit l’amour). No matter what the mood, the crowd seemed to avidly follow every twist and turn in the repertoire.

Corcoran’s own work was interspersed with that of guests, including singer songwriter Pierre Flynn, who performed his song Lettre de Venise, accompanying himself on the piano, and pianist, composer and arranger James Gelfand, both of whom were very warmly received. Mara Tremblay sang with Jim on a country number and performed a rousing song of her own. The eclectic line-up of guests was rounded out by the comic duo Les Denis Drolet, whose antics were greeted by roars of laughter, and the hip-hop trio Loco Locass. Corcoran graciously shared the limelight with seasoned and emerging artists alike. Concert-goers had a great time going along for the ride.

Cynthia Adam[back to top/ haut de page]

Sinclair (Spectrum) et Dumas (l'aire Ford Focus) 03/8/02

This evening we were treated to two wonderful male singers with rich, raunchy voices, one French, one Quebecois. Sinclair's rediscovery of funk, however, left those of us who grew up with the Commodores a little hungry for something less recycled. The young crowd at the Spectrum though (no doubt born well after the peak of the funk era) seemed happy at experiencing the vitality of the popping bass guitar typical of this originally Afro-American musical style. However, besides the bass guitarist and perhaps some band members with North African roots, this was "Play that funky music, white boy" all the way. The accoutrements of the funk era: the big hair, the shiny white pant suits with thick brass belts, and the Black Motown recording artists who contributed so much to American pop culture, were missing. We had to settle for Sinclair's wild and fuzzy yellow-top which he quickly tamed (after the first number) under a black toque. Nonetheless, it was hard not to appreciate the enthusiasm of the youthful crowd who knew the lyrics of his songs,  and the piercing, raucous "aou" battle cry of Sinclair  which he generously coyoteed several times in every piece.  I found the awkward swaying of his two-main horn section, evocative of members of a high-school band who have just learned how to look cool.  The tunes after a while,  got to be a bit repetitious. I couldn't distinguish one melody from the next. The charm for the audience, must have been in discovering the energy of funk for the first time, and in knowing the lyrics, which to the non-Sinclair fan, were unintelligible. But Sinclair hopped across the stage, posed on the draped piano, played with the microphone, and delivered a good visual performance. 

Dumas' outdoor act was a much more authentic musical experience for the listener, than Sinclair's. Dumas sang from the heart, carefully crafted songs driven by a melodic and poetic conviction, songs that I discovered for the first time like: Comme un rien, Marie-Lou, L'Ecrivaine. His diction was impeccable: I actually understood what he said even though I hadn't heard him before. The tunes were compelling, ballad-like, fed by a strong rock current and by a deep feel for the acoustic guitar's capacity to strike at a human's emotional chords. Dumas' social commentary in his "Pyromanes" reminded me of the young Paul Piche when he first came out with " Heureux d'un Printemps".  Dumas is a contemporary extract of the special cultural juices that Quebec's historical tradition and social life continues to provide for artists. The world is sure to take note of this young rising star. Early evidence that the kid's going places is the "Best French Video" prize awarded his "Miss Extasy" in June by MuchMusic . ( I ought to mention that our enjoyment of this concert was enhanced by the clemency of the weather and by the Portuguese wine and Quebecois cheese served at little white tables on the esplanade!) 

Soprano [back to top/ haut de page]

Juliette Greco (Salle Wilfrid Pelletier, PDA) 28/7/01

Mme. Greco's performance was mesmerizing as well as electrifying! Her meaningful lyrics, her husky voice, the emotional intensity, her body movements and gestures, kept her audience captivated. One could almost compare her with a Shakespearean dramatic artist! Her orchestra provided an absolutely divine musical backdrop. Mme. Greco graciously responded to standing ovations and several requests for encore. What an enchanting evening!

Madhu Iyer [back to top/ haut de page]

La Nuit du Hip Hop (Metropolis) 2/8/01

As an English-speaking Canadian with no knowledge of the French language, I happened to attend this Hip Hop concert on this particular evening. The crowd of young people gathered at this concert were enthusiastic, enjoying every minute of the performance. The rapport between the singers and the audience seemed to reach its highest peak. The young people were completely taken over by the lyrics and music of hip hop. I was impressed by the young Montreal crowd . The ushers were extremely kind and helpful.  What a wonderful way for the young people to spend an evening of great entertainment.

A Manitoban [back to top/ haut de page]

Jean-Pierre Ferland, Michel Rivard, and Daniel Bélanger (Salle Wilfrid Pelletier, PDA) 27/7/00

What a great concert. The three Quebec giants are very good entertainers. The crowd identified with the music, it seemed that they grew up with it. Parts of the crowd sang along the whole concert. Daniel Belanger had a beautiful strong voice. The three interacted with each other with humor which kept everyone amused. The crowd really got into the music: they almost ripped the seats apart in excitement and joy. I haven't attended a concert with so much emotion in a long time. The performers gave two encores. The crowd asked for more with a standing ovation that lasted for at least 10 minutes. When we entered the hall there was a stinky smell, which Guy Latraverse identified as "syndical odors" implying that the technicians of Place Des Arts had thrown stink bombs. I felt bad when I heard Mr. Latraverse attack the union: Instead of him being ashamed to have his festival hosted  at Place Des Arts which is illegitimately hiring scabs and union breakers he instigates the people against the poor technicians. Mr. Latraverse, please take your festival to a more honorable place, the only thing that stank in the hall was your right-wing union-busting breath.

Marcelle Deeks [back to top/ haut de page]

Axelle Red  (Theatre Maisonneuve)  29/7/00

The titian-haired Belgian singer-songwriter was ably supported by her seven-piece band (3 guitarists, 2 keyboardists, and 2 percussionists), providing a richly-textured sound, at times reminiscent of Earth Wind and Fire, with rhythm and blues overtone. Although they performed some up-tempo rock and pop numbers, Axelle Red is at her best belting out her deeply-felt ballad about sensuality, love, loss, and the attendant feelings of confusion and vulnerability. Her grilish Jane-Birkenesque speaking voice and shy demeanor when addressing the audience were rather incongruous with her strong singing style. However, the audience lapped it all up, singing and dancing along to her better known numbers for the last half of the show.

Cynthia Adam[back to top/ haut de page]

Bernard Lavilliers (Salle Wilfrid Pelletier) 30/7/00

This concert began like a Club Med holiday entertainment package: Lavilliers overlaid his popular French songs with borrowed rhythms from World Music. In the first hour of the concert, Lavilliers and his 4-piece band unabashedly used these hot beats to appeal to a largely white audience whose only contact with the third world has probably been through organized winter escapes to " the Islands". Lavilliers knew how to turn this particular crowd on with the use of samba, ska, reggae, salsa and rock. The inauthenticity of his popularization of the music of colonized peoples swallowed us up into a tide (La Grande Maree) of derivative pop commercialism. Lavilliers himself did not look entirely comfortable on stage. Perhaps he was aware that his inane repackaging of pretty tunes to energize a beleaguered French song tradition may not appeal to the critics. He announced at the top of the second hour that he would now proceed to perform some fresh, yet-unrecorded material for the benefit of the media. Indeed, the improvement was noticeable. When he picked up his guitar, we felt that he was finally singing from his heart. The best thing was that the spectators (some of whom have no doubt traveled to "les colonies" and some who simply seemed to enjoy Lavillier's sweet reconstitution of world beats) were standing on their feet and dancing by the end. I enjoyed best his rendition of :"Why", "Qui veux-tu que je sois dans cette societe la?", and Leo Ferre's "Est-ce ainsi que les hommes vivent?", all of which lived up to Lavilliers' rebel image. Touching also was the use of his half-Brazilian heritage in many of his songs, rendered with smatterings of Brazilian Portuguese. This attempt at bringing in "other" sources of inspiration has a long tradition in France. .Classical composers like Ravel (who borrowed from various folk traditions of Europe), Milhaud (who borrowed from South American music), and Messiaen (who imitated pristine bird calls of Polynesia) did it; and French pop music is doing it too. Of course this is not new to Francophone pop either: Remember Quebecois, Robert Charlebois' "Je reve a Rio"?

Soprano[back to top/ haut de page]

Faudel (Spectrum) 02/8/00

Je n'avais jamais vu de spectacle de musique raï et j'ai été impressionné par l'atmosphère générale. C'est une musique envoûtante et sensuelle du fait d'une instrumentation inusitée et des mélodies du violon. Le chanteur avait également une voix très flexible. Dommage que je ne comprenais pas l'arabe. Et la salle était délirante et agitait furieusement de nombreux drapeaux algériens. Le seul regret que j'ai est que cette musique peut facilement sombrer dans la monotonie alors que son potentiel général est si riche. Il me semble en effet que son bagage traditionnel ajouté aux multiples possibilités expressives des instruments et à leurs capacités technologiques (instruments synthétiques notamment) permettrait une  exploitation et des rencontres plus intéressantes.

Jean-Philippe Trottier (Bureau d'Artistes de Montréal)[back to top/ haut de page]