After a sold-out record release party at the Centre Phi last spring, Laurence Nerbonne was back with a full show in Montréal as part of the Coup de Coeur Francophone festival. Titled Mettre le Feu, an obvious reference to her new album FEU, this show promised to be a not-to-be-missed event, with L’Amalgame as special guests and the presence of a dance crew led by choreographer Lakesshia Pierre-Colon.
This is the same dance crew that is featured in Nerbonne’s new video for the song Back Off, a song about women’s place on the local music scene. The video is visually stunning and is preceded by a short clip where we see a greedy music executive explaining to Nerbonne why he won’t book her in this year’s festival. In one cringeworthy moment, he says that nobody want to see women on stage (“Faut donner au monde, ce que l’monde veut. Comme “Pète pis répète”. Les gars veulent voir des gars en show. Les filles veulent voir des gars en show. Qui qui veut voir une fille? Les gars veulent voir des gars en show […]”). Well, on a cold November 14, 2019 there were both men and women wanting to see Nerbonne’s show and they were loud!
This was Nerbonne’s first ever show at the Club Soda and despite feeling the effects of the flu, there was now way she would cancel such a special event. She also mentioned that many people told her they wouldn’t be coming that night because of the flu. Editorial warning: *if you missed this show because of the flu: (1) You’re weak. 🙂 and (2): you missed one hell of a performance!*
Performing at the Club Soda is always a special event for any artist and Nerbonne even admitted being a little nervous that night. However, both the flu and the nervousness couldn’t hold her down and she came out with a bang with the song Ride alone from the new record, which featured the dance crew. They would be back throughout the set, enhancing the visual presentation of the tracks for the new record. Whenever they were on stage is where Nerbonne was the most fired up (cheap pun intended) and in fighting mode. Both musically and visually, you can sense this is the direction she wants to take her act going forward.
A definite highlight of the night was the performance on Money CA$H, dance crew and all, which climaxed with Nerbonne graping the guitar to play a few notes with fake money bills being thrown around.
Reaching for the stars
As hinted by Nerbonne’s comment on people not showing because of the flu, the show could have benefited from a larger crowd. Some media pointed to the pacing of the tracks, another one to the small budget Québec productions have for these type of shows as factors explaining why the roof didn’t blow off as much as it could have. I don’t believe money was a factor…I mean, all acts could benefit from higher budgets, really. It maybe was a case of some of the crowd being more casual fans than real die-hards, wanting to be seen at the event because of the nice buzz around Nerbonne rather than being heavily into every song. At the back of the crowd, people came and went. Once this proverbial revolving door was shut, the vibe definitely improved and never looked back.
Nerbonne played almost all of the new album, half of her debut XO and even introduced one new track, Première Ministre, with L’Amalgame. Apart from the dancers and special guests, she shared the stage with a live band (Vithou Thurber on synths, Amélie Mandeville on guitars and Joseph Perreault on drums). The sound was crystal clear, as it’s almost always the case at the Club Soda, with the exception of the track FEU, where the bass was so loud that it buried Nerbonne’s vocals and probably ripped my chest open, sending it flying all the way to St-Laurent’s Blvd! The show ended with the same high energy, with Nerbonne playing two of the best and in your face tracks from FEU, #MeToo and Back Off. As the crowded roared the last performance, Nerbonne looked clearly emotional, probably now fully realizing the importance of that night. She immortalized the moment asking people to raise their cell phones lights for one incredible stars-filled picture.
Make sure you catch Nerbonne’s while she’s on tour as it may very well be the last time you can enjoy her this close and personal. Sky is definitely the limit for this strong and talented artist! See Nerbonne’s website for tickets to Québec’s and Sudbury’s upcoming shows!
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Francophone and Francophile, trying to bring 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.