‘Le Belmont’ and ‘live music’ are not two concepts that I would generally place together, just as I would not generally affiliate Le Belmont with an early show. But there we have it! Times change, management changes hands and boy, is this place looking smart. Granted, it’s been a while since I set foot in the joint, though with the modern art pieces decorating the walls and the excellent lighting (not to mention mad upgrades to the sound system), Le Belmont is a welcome spot of warmth in the early December frigidity. The dance area was arranged to comfortably accommodate seating arrangements, lending an air of good cheer to the venue as we awaited the three classy bands promised for our entertainment.
And classy they were! Kicking off with Max Comeau and The Imaginary Lovers. Nothing imaginary about ‘em; I could feel the love in the music as soon as Max unleashed his mighty voice into the mic. Perfectly coordinated and upbeat with a lively stage presence, I nodded along to their subtle groove, enjoying their blend of folk with rock-inspired lyrics and riffs. Max had just released a new album this year titled YOU. Some of the tracks featured lovely female vocals by Fatima Radics, who then appeared on stage in the flesh AND IT WAS AMAZING. So much energy and revelry was conjured in the interactions between Fatima and Max on stage. I could feel their passion for music in the way they fed off each other. A fantastic first act; first class for sure.
Life on Land followed up with their dynamic folk-rock hybrid featuring a lap steel and banjo, not to mention vocals evoking images of southern bluegrass and a harmonica to boot. Hailing from Montreal, their single “A Season” was just picked up by CHOM 97.7 (where you can request to hear it). Frontman Jon Richman has a unique stage presence that’s long and lean with wiry energy and a powerful voice. I found that their songs varied in energy and mood. Occasionally the energy in the room would flag during some of the slower numbers, but it served as an interesting technique that provided more oomph during the faster songs. It was great to see a slide guitar on stage, performed by the talented multi-instrumentalist Guillaume Tellier. Maybe it’s because this particular instrument adds a touch of uniqueness in sound and adaptation, or maybe it’s because I adore the slow, drawn out, melancholic tones of a lap steel live on stage.
After a short break where we collected our wits, The Rising Few arrived and blew us away. THEY HAD A TRUMPET. This was certainly the night for folk rock. Did they ever deliver! Karim Terouz’s smooth vocals with a hint of sultry R’n’B reminded me of Fatima Radics’s earlier performance. The bouncy guitar and very clever lyrics had the room grooving hard. The horn referenced big band-style riffs which were lively and bright, combining quite nicely with the rest of the ensemble. There was a lot of new material this set, including their newest single “Big Boy Games.” Playing new material for the first time live must be a challenge for a band since there is no way to know how the crowd will react. Judging by the way this crowd reacted, they have a bright future of shows ahead of them. People got up and danced their faces off, elated by the positivity and effervescence emitted from the stage. Happiness is contagious; this show is exactly what we needed to begin the winter.
Congratulations to The Rising Few for the release of their video for “Big Boy Games,” which was released on Nov. 30th, 2015.
I hope to see more from all these band in the new year- we gotta stave off the winter blues somehow, and this is the perfect opportunity.
Written and Photographed by D. Niko Holmes
*edited by Kate Erickson