For a minute or two at Coeur de Pirate’s Saturday night show at Massey Hall, I was convinced I was no longer in Canada but had been transported back to a small Parisian club in the 1940s. All I was missing was a long filtered cigarette and a glass of chardonnay.
Coeur de Pirate, the Montreal-born singer-songwriter Béatrice Martin, brought her contemporary twist on the chansons françaises genre to an audience of adoring fans. Singing songs that ran the gamut of her entire discography, she seemed bashful at times, repeatedly asking us how things were sounding. Her humility was unnecessary, however, as she had the transfixed crowd in the palm of her hand.
Self-effacing yet compelling, she joked with the audience about the number of English songs she was playing (“Donc, c’est une autre chanson en anglais…désolée.”), saying “Now you’re stuck with me” when her band left the stage so she could sing a few songs with nothing more than piano accompaniment. Little did she know, those intimate moments were the highlight of the evening, warm enough to melt even the coldest of pirates’ hearts.
Opening up for Coeur de Pirate was Bry Webb, former frontman for Canadian rockers, the Constantines, who was launching his second solo album, Free Will. Contrasting the high-energy, fantastically frenetic shows fans of this indie group have come to know and love, Webb joked that he hoped his folk-roots songs climaxed in such a way that hippie moms felt moved to dance. Both calming and toe-tapping, Webb’s soulful music made introspection as sweet and soothing as lemonade on a night that was starting to feel like summer.