Friday, May 22, 2009

A Taste of Montreal in Phoenix Blues Bar

I wasn't expecting rain in the desert yesterday but it was much more likely than stumbling across a rythm and blues club presenting The Dears - one night only - for TEN DOLLARS. Seeming too good to be true, I double and triple checked the Montreal band's website to see their tour schedule and sure enough, here they are - in Phoenix - playing the day after I arrive for holidays.

We got to the bar at 7:30 and the doors were not yet open. In fact, the back door was open, they were doing sound check and our car and The Dears tour bus were the only vehicles in the parking lot. So we detoured around, found a couple beers and returned at 9pm to a packed house. However, I shouldn't say house, because the bar is more likely the size of your basement. And packed is equivalent to about 75 people. This was bound to be incredible.

At 10 oclock, the lights went down and that familiar voice started singing but he was no where to be found - until I looked over my shoulder. Frontman, musical genius, Murray Lightburn was walking around the the bar holding a candle, singing to the bar patrons. And before I knew it, he is standing toe to toe with me, singing literally inches from my face. Pardon the pun-like comment but I was like a DEAR caught in the headlights. (I can't believe that HE could keep a straight face when looking at my giddy school boy grin.) This lasted for half a minute with the eyes of the bar on the area around my barstool. When Lightburn walked away singing with his candle, the guy behind me that I had befriended earlier in the night yelled, THAT JUST HAPPENED! WOW!

The band, all seven members of them, then ripped through an hour and a half set on a 10' x 10' stage that included just about every song, from every album. At the beginning of the night, there were a handful of Canadians and a few Americans familiar with their music. At the end of the night, everyone was a super fan.

I've been to a lot of shows over the years, and people say this all the time, but that just might have been the best I have ever seen. Given the venue, and the size of the crowd and the fury in which they unleashed their multi-layered songs. Like the words Murray LIghtburn exhaled into the microphone upon leaving the stage at the end of the set, "Fucking Awesome."

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