Updated: 28 Sep 2007
Montreal Progressive Music Festival, held on Sat 15 Sept 2007 and Sun 16 Sept 2007, featured the Hero & Heroine line-up of the Strawbs, well known prog rock heroes IQ, Swedish legends Samla Mammas Manna, and Quebec groups Nathan Mahl, Hamadryad, Ville Emard Blues Band and others. Strawbs played on 15 Sept 2007 at the Salle Pierre Mercure at the Pierre Peladeau Center, Montreal, a beautiful and intimate auditorium seating just under 800, and with fantastic acoustics and sightlines, conveniently located in the heart of the Latin Quarter, right next to the Berri-UQAM subway station.
FMPM, MONTREAL, 15 SEP 2007
Strawbs has had an extraordinary 2007 with successful performances at B.B. Kings, Kitchener, Cropredy and, now, as headliners at Festival des Musiques Progressives de Montreal. My understanding is that this annual festival was created last year by an investment banker with a love of progressive rock and enough money to do his part to help it thrive. Seems like a helluva nice guy, too.
Representing Witchwood at the show were me, Dorie, Jon Connolly, Lisa and family, and Alain Beaudreault. While I probably win (or at least share) the prize for distance travelled (with the exception of a Mexican guy who I'm not sure attended specifically for the Strawbs set), Dorie and Lisa should really get special honors for having each endured 7-hour drives versus my less-than-one-hour flight.
The festival included a line-up of Quebecois and international bands, none of which I saw, or heard of, for that matter. Among them, I.Q., Jellyfishe and a Swedish band with a name that sounds like (but isn't) The Salami Mamas. I understand The Salami Mamas put on a great show and I suspect they might be Strawbs fans since one of the band's members spent most of Strawbs show taking photos of the band.
But on to the set. No! Let's backtrack a bit. The show was a late one, beginning at 9:45 p.m. and Strawbs were to play for an hour and three-quarters, with no intermission. When the audience was admitted after the break between The Salami Mamas and Strawbs, the orchestra level appeared full (the venue held 800 people and was a bit over half filled). Strawbs were introduced as "the legendary Strawbs," came out on stage...and received a full standing ovation--before they even played one note! This was no audience of casual fans or curious music lovers--they knew them, often greeted songs with applause and most songs received at least a partial standing ovation.
The set was perfect for the prog rock fan audience and included--to my recollection (hate doing set lists)--"New World", "Hero And Heroine", "Burning For Me", "Heartbreaker", "The River/Down By The Sea", "Lay Down", "You and I When We Were Young" (including a little surprise ending by Hawken which I don't even think the band knew was coming), "Round And Round", "Out In The Cold", "Autumn", "Simple Visions", "Only Want My Love to Grow In You", "Life Auction", "Benedictus", and "Here Today, Gone Tomorrow". Additionally, there was a terrific drum solo. Because of the prog rock nature of the festival, DC didn't bring the banjo along so no "Cold Steel".
It was another Kitchener-like performance, thanks to the spacious stage. DC was hoppin' up and down like a bunny rabbit, the hand gestures were at an all-time high--even he admitted it after the show--and he held notes forevvvvvvvvvvver. Leapin' Lambert had a nice stretch of stage to operate in and even Chas was moving. John did some really, really nice work--particularly that new ending to "You And I When We Were Young"--and you really could hear a pin drop during Rod's solo.
I can't say how happy I am when Strawbs play at a venue and before an audience that's worthy of their talents.
The meet and greet after the show was packed. I love eavesdropping on fan comments and my favorite this night was a woman saying to her companion "I'm probably the only new fan here. Everyone's loved them for decades!" The organizer seemed as delighted as the audience.
Photos by Michel Parent - more pix from Michel .
The Strawbs headlined the first night of the Montreal Progressive Music Festival (FMPM) at the state of the art Pierre-Peladeau Center, and were received with a standing ovation by around 500 fans. Quebec was North America's bastion of progressive rock during the 1970's, and the Strawbs were very popular in Montreal back then. Fans here have waited nearly 30 years for the "electric" Strawbs to return, so the anticipation was palpable and such a warm welcome was to be expected. The 700-plus seat venue would have probably been packed, had it not been for a Rush concert in Montreal and a Genesis show in Ottawa that same night.
By looking at the 17 song set list, it's no wonder that this show was as near to perfection as a Strawbs concert could be. The emphasis was on the "electric" and more "prog" oriented material, and fans appreciated that the song selection was tailored to meet that pent-up demand. The band's execution was flawless, and the sound in the venue was amazing. Dave Cousins packed such power and emotion in his vocals, and his pitch was dead on for nearly 2 hours. It's impossible to define a single highlight in the midst of such consistency. Rod's powerful drumming, John's elegant keyboards, Chas' steady rhythm, and Dave Lambert's rock-star stage presence. It was indeed the ultimate electric set, played brilliantly. Thank you Dave C., Dave L., John, Chas and Rod, for a performance that will long be remembered by all those who attended FMPM 2007 !
Photos by Michel Parent - more pix from Michel .
I was at that exceptional show that I'd waited for 30 years. I drove for 2 hours to see that show. My friend came from Québec City. Really the best show I've seen. What a night. Here's some pics of the whole scene before the show and with the band playing. We'd bought tickets just to see the Strawbs..
Thank you Strawbs for coming.....
I've bought four CD's and the Blue boy is really really good.
Say a high five to all the band for me.
Photo by Jean Deschesnes