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Francos 2023

Montreal Celebrates Its Rock in French

by Nicolas Pelletier, June 15, 2023

I don't know if it's a sign of the times or if it's a swing of the pendulum, but I happened to hear some good rock in French this year at the Francos de Montréal. Oh, there always was, I know, but I feel like it peaked on this edition. We know that the language of Molière lends itself more naturally to chansonniers and poets than to rockers, and their merit is even greater when their French sounds strong and assumed.



The first artist who marked me at this level is Lou-Adriane Cassidy! Apart from listening to her two albums, I had only seen her on stage as a musician in Hubert Lenoir's band during his first tours of the 'Darlène' years. The friend Parazelli had warned me before the concert“You are going to be blown away by Lou-Adriane!”, and he was not wrong! This girl has an incredibly infectious energy, an irresistible drive, and, boy, do you have a lot of songs that are becoming anthems. Her fans sing along with her. She dances without restraint to her music, completely assuming her trip, and taking us with her without any problem. 

To come back to her French rock, I find that she has it perfectly, the Cassidy! It is a spoken language, yet poetic, without ever being bombastic or awkward. Even more at ease on stage than on record, there is no doubting her sincerity when she screams “Between my legs, I feel nothing” repeatedly, propelled by her solid rock band. “Answer” and “I still hope that somewhere the wait stops” were a hundred times punchier live than on record. The crowd does not hesitate to sing the la la la with her, because it is almost rebellious in the approach.


She also knows how to melt the crowd in more intimate moments, such as on  the magnificent "Le corps en mouvement" (written by Stéphane Lafleur), and "Ça va ça va", which she performed almost a cappella. As touching as Salomé Leclerc, as captivating as Jimmy Hunt, and (almost) as energetic as Hubert.

Lou-Adriane Cassidy was well surrounded. Solo artists leading their own careers including Thierry Larose on guitars, Anatole on bass (also co-author and co-producer of his albums) and Vincent Gagnon, the excellent jazz pianist also met at Hubert. An artist who has talent, guts, audacity and a great career ahead of her!


Another good band from here, which, casually, is quietly making its way. I was pleasantly surprised to see that they drew a good crowd to their (outdoor) concert on Saturday evening and that many were singing many of their songs by heart. Bon Enfant still seems a little shy on stage: they take care of delivering their excellent songs well, but they still lack a little something for us to be really caught up in their performance in concert. It will come, there is a lot of talent in this band.


This band offers a trip to the psychedelic years with a tongue-in-cheek attitude. Nobody flinches when they see that the singer Cédric Marinelli (of the band Les Marinellis) is playing with golden gloves… or when he arrives in silver underwear, under a black cape. Miles Dupire-Gagnon and Gabriel Lambert (two guys from Éléphant Stone) continue their shoulder-rolling retro groove, too, dressed in the colors of the 60s. You can catch them at La Noce and then at Le Festif! in July.


In a completely different register, the poet of love, the cantor of life, the emotional sponge that is Arthur H came to present his new album “La vie” by performing almost exclusively his new songs. A great way to pick up the thread of its creation. I had missed his previous album “Premature death of a singer in the prime of life”, released in the midst of a pandemic. From this opus, he sang “Nancy” and “The saddest song in the world” with which he closed the evening, after two good hours of music delivered with intensity. ​


Going back to “Life”, it is a collection of more introspective songs, which shows the light that springs from the darkest moments of our lives. Higelin junior has become quite a singer. When he takes his head voice, he becomes so touching, so vulnerable. Then he takes up this crisp, deep, damaged, sensual, soft voice, which fills with wisdom with age (he is only 57 years old, he is a young sage). Pieces like “La route” will be added like new stones to his already imposing edifice of songs which have this quality of becoming better over time. ​


He was (also) surrounded by excellent musicians: Nicolas Repac on guitars and ukulele (yes, he found one), Pierre Lebourgeois on cello and Raphaël Séguinier on percussion. Arthur brought them to light magnificently during an instrumental passage where their shadows magnified their impressive playing, against the background of the Studio TD stage (formerly called L'Astral). Planted a few meters from the artist, I was able to appreciate his hands dancing softly on his piano, and each of the notes emitted by his unique voice. ​ Gorgeous.


THANKS. Thank you life. ​ ​ ​


Next stop: the Montreal International Jazz Festival, from June 29 to July 8. See you soon!

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