Arthur H. @ Pop Montreal (concert review)

 As part of Pop Montréal festival, the Rialto was host to three acts on Saturday night with headliner and french legend Arthur H., and folk artist Daniel Isaiah opening the show, followed by Belgium-based band Roscoe.

Montreal’s very own Daniel Isaiah opened the night’s music festivities just before 8h30. Isaiah and his band took the stage, making final adjustments to their equipment. Without any notice, not even giving the stage techs time to dim the lights, Isaiah and his band started to play the first piece of their seven song set. Isaiah’s soulful and southing voice paired greatly with the folk rock medleys produced. Isaiah and his band delivered the songs like High Twilight with great feeling and soul. Rarely taking breaks between songs, there was something very down to earth about the musician. One could tell that the 5 musicians on stage were not only playing the songs but felt them too which made for great melodic build-ups and complexions, whether it be from the guitars, drums, base or keys. Daniel Isaiah transmitted his music to the audience by simply letting his music speak. Based on this strong and cohesive set, I think that the audience left the Rialto with a clear Idea of who Isaiah is as an artist. Judging by the applause and crowd commentary, the audience liked what they heard. Daniel Isaiah is definitely one to look out for; you’ll be at the first song you here. 

The Belgian formation Roscoe took to the stage second. Their set was relatively small with only four songs making up the list. Roscoe definitely excel in mellow but textured rock along with the signature muddle lyrics. The songs were of a slower tempo yet very colorful, complex and without ever losing their focus. Although the main act for the night was Arthur H., there was no doubting the presence of a substantial Roscoe following in the Rialto on Saturday night and I dare say that following grew bigger by the night’s end.

Last to grace the stage was Arthur H. Just after 10 pm, as the lights dimmed and the crowd silenced, and a small but bright light appeared from the right corner of the stage. Arthur H., emerged with a large light bulb attached to a pole, moving ever so slowly towards the spectators, pointing his electric lantern towards the spectators from left to right, then towards the different instruments on the stage. Slowly, he made his way towards the piano where he improvised a few abstract melodies before he finally sat down, played an instrumental intro while on queue, one by one his band members took to their instruments.

This was a captivating and imaginative beginning to Arthur H.’s set and the crowd was already completely engrossed. Arthur eventually left his piano and took his place center stage, where he sang multiple singles from his latest Album Baba Love such as Ulysse et Calypso, Baba Love, Give me up and the crowd favorite Le paradis il est chinois. By the time Arthur H. got to Ma Dernière Nuit À New York City from his 2010 album, Mystic Rumba, a mass of people had gathered at the front of the stage and on the aisles, dancing and singing without a pause.

The modern chansonnier, with his tailored leather suit and uncalculated movements with the music gave him the allure of a funky and jazzed up Serge Gainsbourg.

The crowd was sold just at the sight of Arthur H. on stage and their expectations were likely met and surpassed. The music was great, the band was on key, the figure was engaging and the music produced took everybody on a ride through different textures, genres and emotions. Even those whom were new with Arthur H. were charmed by the music and the man. All left the show with a smile on their faces, the smile of a night’s worth of great music. He iss definitely an artist to look up and put on your list of artists to watch live, language barrier or not. 

By Bianca Santullo

Photos by Arthur Gauthier 


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Written by ccourtois

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