July 5, 2019. That night had all the ingredients to be special. A checklist of « firsts » for Alex Henry Foster and his solo album Windows in the Sky:
- It was the first time that Alex Henry Foster was featured on the Festival de Jazz de Montréal;
- It was the first time that the album was played live in its entirety;
- It was the first time that the album was played live in Québec;
To top it all off, this was also a de facto « reunion » for Your Favorite Enemies; the first time they played live after a three year hiatus. The line-up outside the sold-out Club Soda didn’t lie, we were going to be treated to a once in a lifetime experience.
But first: Sheena Ko.
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Some photos from my solo performance at the @festivaljazzmtl where I opened (and performed with) @alexhenryfoster at Club Soda, taken by Sebastien Tacheron of @dailyrock_qc What a fun and magical evening!!!! 😀😀😀 Am trying to locate some photos of the dancers who performed with me- stay tuned!
Special guests are often a hit-or-miss affair. An unrelated band pushed by the record label or something similar. This time though, they hit the nail right on the head with Sheenah Ko. Her electro-indie-pop, distinctive voice, crowd dancers and trance-like stage presence were all attributes to win over Alex’s crowd. Loud applause after every song. Another local artist to keep our eyes on in the years to come.
Once in a lifetime
Then, Alex Henry Foster, members of Your Favorite Enemies and special guests invested the fully loaded stage. Those guests included a returning Sheenah Ko providing extra keys and backing vocals, a cello player, an extra percussionist and a Japanese girl handling the (Japanese) spoken word part in The Hunter. With intermittent blinding lights reflecting on the stage, the band played a never-heard-before special instrumental written especially for the event. Alex Henry Foster then went through his solo record, in running order.
For those who are not familiar, Alex wrote Windows in the Sky as he was mourning his father, each song representing a snapshot of their time together and who he was as a person. The album was originally featured on our own monthly top 5! Given the background story behind the album, it was understandably an emotional night for the singer:
“My companions in Your Favorite Enemies managed to get me out of my hideout in Tangier. I would like to thank you for the reception you guys gave to the record and for all being all here tonight…it means a lot to me. It also means a lot to everyone here with me to be able to share those emotions. As you can see, we live these moments as a family. Speaking of family, we’re privileged because people came all the way from Japan, the UK, the US, France & Germany to hear me play the whole record. I’m very happy to welcome you guys to live that moment with me!”
Highlights of the set included the aforementioned The Hunter and Winter is Coming in. Many songs were granted extended jams much to the crowd’s delight. Adding to the experience, the sound inside the Club Soda was crystal clear. You could hear every note, every subtle percussion and backing vocals. An intense homecoming and immersive communion between the singer and his fans, his family.
Those who know Alex Henry Foster are aware of his complex relationship with playing live. This made him even more grateful as the night resumed.
Without the presence of all my friends on stage, I don’t think I would have had the courage to stand here in front of you and share those emotions. […] You kind of always feel the impostor syndrome when you present a project that’s so much personal in nature. So, to have the support from everyone on stage, and yours as well, is nothing short of extraordinary.
The experience continues
Those lucky enough to score tickets for the show got a special invitation to YFE’s headquarters, a former church the band bought several years ago. Even though Jano Lapin couldn’t attend this deluxe « encore », from various feedback received, this intimate performance was another magical experience. This again proves that this band treats its fans like no other!
If you missed the Jazz Fest show, the gods are on your side. Indeed, Alex will bring his solo show to l’Épiphanie’s Rock Fest pour la Santé Mentale and it promises to deliver once again! It’s the only additional show scheduled at this time, so don’t you dare miss it!
Get your tickets here!
CPA (although he doesn’t want people to know about it — oops!). Francophone and Francophile, he has a dream of bringing Québec’s two solitudes together through cultural exchanges. Improv Actor for 15 years. Music lover, from New Age to Death Metal and everything in between.