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Monday, November 14th, 2011

Blonde

Coeur de Pirate at The Mod Club in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangThe last few years have seen a bit of a renaissance with respect to Francophone Canadian bands making inroads both in English-speaking Canada and internationally, thanks in no small part to there generally being at least one such act on every year’s Polaris Music Prize shortlist. And circa 2009, I certainly expected Montreal’s Béatrice Martin – aka Coeur de Pirate – to be leading the charge. Her 2008 self-titled debut made the long list that year, but hardly needed the boost – she was already a star in many French-speaking parts of the world and had even gotten some high-profile boosterism from American media types such as Perez Hilton and Good Morning America. And, oh, the fact that she was young, beautiful, completely bilingual, and her album a mesmerizing slice of piano-led pop certainly didn’t hurt her odds for success.

But rather than leverage that into ubiquity, Coeur de Pirate opted to play it coy with Anglo Canada, playing festival dates but never booking her own headlining show at a club or theatre. This made gauging her fanbase in Toronto, at least, a bit difficult – her NXNE 2009 showcase was nigh-on impossible to get into but also held at the tiny Dakota Tavern, whereas being tapped to open up day two of that year’s V Fest saw her playing to a mostly-empty Molson Amphitheatre to a brace of Nine Inch Nails die-hards. And earlier this year, when she was booked to play a free show at Harbourfront Centre, her potential audience was probably affected at least a little by another free show downtown by one Aretha Franklin.

All of which made her show at The Mod Club last Friday night to celebrate the release earlier that week of her second album Blonde of particular interest as it would be, as far as I knew, the first opportunity for local fans to actually buy tickets to a Coeur concert and show their support quantitatively. Which they did en masse, as the performance was completely sold out. It still would have been interesting to break them down demographically between long-time fans, ones who’d come to her via Armistice, her English-language side-project with Bedouin Soundclash Jay Malinowski, and how many had simple heard Blonde and been bowled over.

The last of those is eminently plausible as the new record is, in a word, amazing. The girlish, chanson-derived charms of Coeur de Pirate have blossomed into widescreen, swinging-’60s full-band pop gems with Martin functioning less as a singer-songwriter than a full-on bandleader. It was a role that Martin played perfectly on Friday night, alternately playing standing up behind her piano – no sitting! – or stepping out and up to the mic alone. Some pianist-frontpersons might feel uncomfortable or exposed away from their instruments, but Martin performed like a seasoned professional which, even though she’s just 22, I suppose she already is.

The full-band presentation not only did a fine job of bringing Blonde to life but also reinvented the Coeur de Pirate material, muscling up the arrangements and tempos and replacing its ingénue qualities with sass and sophistication. The middle portion of the set turned the time machine back from the ’60s back to the ’40s for a more melancholic vibe, but there was no way to make the show – which also included a couple of Armistice tunes with Malinowski showing up to play duet partner, an abridged version of her cover of The Weeknd’s “Wicked Games” and an unexpected mass audience singalong on “Comme des enfants” – anything less than a giddy celebration and coming-out party. It was a complete understatement when near the night’s end, Martin declared, “it’s been a good show”. It was a great show, and hopefully the first of many more to come.

The Grid, NOW, Exclaim, The National Post and Montreal Mirror all have features on Coeur de Pirate while NOW also has a writeup of the show.

Photos: Coeur de Pirate @ The Mod Club – November 11, 2011
Video: Coeur de Pirate – “Adieu”
Video: Coeur de Pirate – “Ensemble”
Video: Coeur de Pirate – “Francis”
Video: Coeur de Pirate – “Comme des enfants”
Video: Armistice – “Mission Bells”

The Vanguard has a chat with Jenn Grant, who has just scheduled a show at Hugh’s Room on November 23.

Video: Jenn Grant – “Getcha Good”

Beatroute and The Seattle Times have features on Feist, whose KCRW session is available to stream at NPR and whose show at the Glenn Gould Studio in October is available to stream on demand at CBC Radio 2 for a limited time – listen while you can! She’s at Massey Hall on December 1.

Opening up that show for Feist will be Bry Webb, who previewed a couple of new songs from his solo debut Provider for an Exclaim video session. The album is out tomorrow.

Spinner tries to sort out if Broken Social Scene is indeed broken up now or if they’re just on a really long break.

In conversation with Spinner,Damian Abraham of Fucked Up mused about his long-term future with the band, and shortly after that piece ran, Abraham took to Twitter to report that any doubts about continuing on had been put to rest. So that’s that. Elsewhere, NOW reports back from a Polaris Salon where FU drummer Jonah Falco offered some thoughts on David Comes To Life.

Press clippings follow Ohbijou as they tour across the country: there’s feature pieces with the band at Beatroute, CBC Radio 3, Here, Planet S, Uptown, and The Star-Phoenix while CBC Radio 3 also has their release show for Metal Meets at Toronto’s Trinity-St. Paul’s in September available to stream.

Dan Mangan is profiled in feature pieces in Beatroute. The Vancouver Sun, Monday, and The Calgary Herald.

The Walrus looks at the effect that Arcade Fire’s success has had on the Montreal music scene as a whole.

Nick Diamonds of Islands talks to Spinner about their new record A Sleep & A Forgetting, due out on February 14 of next year.

Sloan continue the 20th anniversary celebrations with the release of a Is That All That I Get, a 1993-vintage live bootleg recorded in Winnipeg and being pressed in a limited run of 300 pieces of green marbled vinyl.

Martyr interviews The Balconies.

Author Michael Barclay talks to Exclaim about the Have Not Been The Same ’90s Can-rock tribute compilation Too Cool to Live, Too Smart to Die, which is officially out tomorrow but which I just bought right now. And so can you. Details and tracklist of who covers who available at Radio Free Canuckistan.

By : Frank Yang at 8:33 am
Category: Concert Reviews

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RSS Feed for this post3 Responses.
  1. Canada’s BĂ©atrice Martin (aka “Coeur de Pirate” and “Armistice”) | The Lefort Report says:

    [...] music blog, Chromewaves, pointed to Martin, Couer de Pirate and Armistice in their post today in which Chromewaves rave-viewed the Couer de Pirate show in Toronto last Friday (in support of the [...]

  2. Bruce says:

    Just saw your photos from the Couer de Pirate show. Uh, Frank, didn’t you say there was a full band on stage?

  3. Frank Yang says:

    haha. well besides her obviously being the frontperson and most photogenic, we were shooting from the crowd and had limited time to try and get shots. Ain’t no time for bassists when you’re under the gun.