Pop Montreal Review: Van Dyke Parks, Clare & the Reasons, Daniel Isaiah Schachter, September 30, Ukranian Federation

Montreal – Van Dyke Parksis a pop music legend.  Having worked with Harry Nillson, Joanna Newsom, The Byrds, Tim Buckley, Rufus Wainwright, Ringo Starr, Brian Wilson and a whole lot of others, his pedigree is pretty impeccable and it’s obvious that he is both talented  and in demand.  Yet at 67 years old (a fact he mentioned at least a couple of times during his set almost as if he couldn’t believe it himself), here he is embarking on his first tour ever. And that tour brought him here to The Ukranaian Federation on one of the rainiest nights I’ve seen in awhile.  Yet the rain did not deter people from coming out. 

As I arrived at the venue, partly soaked from the downpour, opener Daniel Schachterwas already on.  His rootsy, singer-songwriter-ish tunes were pretty good and he and his band had a nice laid back, loose vibe onstage.  He closed out his set by inviting a female singer to join him in performing “une chansonne,” and the song was probably the best of the set.  The French lyrics also served to remind me that I was indeed in Montreal.  Ironically, even though I was in Montreal, Schachter would be the only local performer I would see during the festival.

Next up were Clare & the Reasonsfrom Brooklyn.  Pretty much from their first note, I knew this was a band I was going to like.  They had  a very good chemistry onstage as well as pretty good stage banter.  Said banter included little asides in French from multi-instrumentalist Olivier Manchon and at least one slightly corny yet kind of funny play on words – “This next song is called “Ooh you hurt me so.  It’s either about me getting hurt or soup in Japan.”  Clare’s voice is slightly reminiscent of Martha Wainwright and probably some other singers  that I can’t think of right now.  It has a sort of old school yet timeless vibe.  Clare and her three bandmates are all really talented musicians, each of them playing multiple instruments  and drawing on various influences ranging from classic pop to jazz to chamber music and much more.  One of the highlights of their set was a cover of Genesis’ “That’s All” which was a whimsical, gentle reworking that made me realize what a great song it actually is.   Speaking of their instrumental dexterity, I have to mention Manchon’s ability to play the glockenspiel with one hand while simultaneously playing the recorder.  It’s probably not as easy as he made it look.  Also, how many bands actually incorporate the recorder into their performances?  No others that I can think of.  They were joined at the end of their set by Van Dyke Parks himself for a version of “He Needs Me,” a song co-written by Parks for the soundtrack to Robert Altman’s Popeye film.  They were definitely one of the standout bands of Pop Montreal for me.

The Reasons (minus Clare) would retake the stage as Van Dyke Parks’ band for the entirety of his set, thus displaying further evidence of their instrumental prowess as they joined Parks on both his own songs and a few from various other writers.  At least one of those songs stretched way back to the 1800s.  “I come from a country that no longer exists.” he said as an acknowledgment of his affinity for a bygone era of American life.  Parks was a pretty engaging performer, telling various stories about his life, his songs, and his inspirations.  He’s a very eloquent speaker.  I would probably not have minded that much had he spent half an hour just talking about his songs, but I suppose that’s what his songwriting and arranging workshop held earlier in the afternoon was for.  Too bad I didn’t get into Montreal til later in the afternoon or I would have caught that for sure.  He also got political at times, telling stories such as that of the sinking of oil tanker The Prestige, which inspired him to write one of his songs.   Despite his at times almost curmudgeonly demeanor, he was also very gracious and pleased to be playing, telling the crowd, “I love you” at the end of his set.  He closed out his set with a version of the Beach Boys classic “Heroes and Villains” before returning for a brief encore of 2 songs.  Definitely a unique and talented performer.

Check out Clare and the Reasons’ Daytrotter sessions here.

Clare & The Reasons – Rodi by senseless

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Posted on by Paul in Concerts, Pop Montreal

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