The Jazz Festival held on the Place des Festivals invited the Montreal group the Barr Brothers
The Barr Brothers remained discreet about the content of their free outdoor show, which is a huge honor for the group.
The quartet thinks it’s a challenge too, for there are few occasions where a group may consider a concert more opportunities for constraints.
Nevertheless, and despite some rain doing the events, there was a crowd at Festival Plaza, and it can be said that Barr Brothers well delivered the goods, even if the show offered as part of the prestigious Festival International Jazz Montreal, may not will have a lasting impression to some.
One can expect a lot of surprise guests on stage, the group is close to Patrick Watson, Plants and Animals, Joe Grass, François Lafontaine, THUS Owls and Marie-Pierre Arthur, all musicians who are part of the great indie musical family in Montreal. In Recent months The Barr Brothers is no longer a quartet but now a trio do to Andrés Vial decided to concentrate on piano, jazz and other direction. The Barr Brother produces sounds planted like it has been carefully watered, tended and grown without pesticides, it’s been cared for, painstakingly crafted with love and culminated in this very moment. Due to their craftsmanship it’s no surprise to see the band tour with the likes of Jackson Browne and The War on Drugs.
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There’s certainly a story to be more fully told about how and why two Brothers named Barr would come from Boston to Montreal to form a band with a harpist named Sarah Page, and how and why they would become big enough to headline the mid-Jazzfest Grand Événement on the Place des Festivals. It is by definition a very Montréal story.
It was an almost spectral intro, with Brad Barr eventually joining the incantation centre-stage, letting it soar up wordlessly like a prayer. It was ambition to suit the venue and occasion, and as that moment gave way to Even the Darkness Has Arms, the evening had its soul.
Because there had been doubt. The weather was an issue again. Because once again, the weather had been crap. When you can walk right up to the front of the TD Stage at 8:30 p.m. on show night, that’s crap weather and, it must be said, the first half of the Jazzfest has been a bit of a washout on that account. A good few good bands on the outdoor site played to crowds smaller than they deserved over the first weekend – while doing so with the game showmanship this Festival always delivers. However, at 9:30 showtime and beyond, the water held off and the headliners were safe to expand into the night as the customarily huge crowd gathered on the Place des Festivals.
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The unlikelihood of the Barr Brothers’ success was captured in that contraption. That, and the stunning confidence on hand as Brad led the evolving onstage coterie through a long, bold set that used everything they had in their instrumental and genre arsenal. This was a band that would fold itself out into the expansive identity behind its gently warm and firesidey sound on record – a band that could groove into Come in the Water, then explode into a massive jam with acoustic slide guitar and an African kora, then take it all waaay down around one mic in How the Heroine Dies.
It was a band that could follow Little Lover with a mournful Beggar in the Morning, with Brad virtually solo on harmonica, with pedal steel weaving somewhere behind him, and make the entire evening work as a kind of magic. The rain held off – literally until 11:15 p.m. The guitar, pedal, banjo, harp, choir and soul returned as they cruised into that finale time. However and whyever we had gotten here, Montréal was most assuredly in the house.
StreeXB extends special thanks to Montreal Gazette for this article. Click here to read the full review