La Force @ M2

Ariel Engle

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La Force Concert Review @ M2 |Festival International de Jazz de Montreal

La Force @ M2
La Force @ M2

It was my first time entering the M2 space and it felt magical.  The stage was setup like a starry backyard.

Last time I saw La Force, was in a church when she opened up for Feist…one of the “Holy Trinity” of Broken Social Scene signers, along with Amy Milan and Emily Haines. La Force is now front and center in the Toronto collective.

Montreal resident Ariel Engle commented on the joys of waking up in her own bed and walking to the venue.  

I had the honor of sitting with Ariel’s mom, a delightful woman who probably took care of me at the legendary Cheap Thrills back on Bishop street, many moons ago.

It was her love of music that bathed Ariel and her brother with an eclectic vinyl collection. That rich musical heritage helped shape Ariel’s quest to unleash her powerful voice.

Ariel chose « La Force » because in French, power is a feminine noun.  Having experienced childbirth, Ariel can claim that title.  There is no act more brave and powerful than bringing a life into this world.  Yet, that beautiful addition to the family was balanced by the terrible loss of her dad.  It inspired a song, “ Mama Papa” which she performed tonight.   

Ariel Engle
Ariel Engle

The performance began with “Can’t Take” from her self-titled album.  I had goosebumps at one point at the power of that voice.

It was “Mama Papa” that felt most intimate as the song directly affected my table.  I can just imagine the memories being played back in the family’s head of the past good times, the sad loss and the new life full of possibilities.    

La Force
La Force

Ariel spoke with the crowd, sharing bite size pieces of her life and introducing songs.  She mentioned how after tomorrow’s gig, she flies to Toronto to play on Canada Day with Broken Social Scene.  She admitted that, growing up in Quebec, she didn’t even know Canada Day was a thing!  

She wrote “Amaze” about my body.  No wait…it was her husband’s body.  I always get those two mixed up.  I would more likely inspire a song called “Love Randals”, which I’m working on losing.

Ariel is a self-proclaimed pessimist, not because she wants to live in negativity.  She can appreciate the good times but is mentally prepared for the inevitable bad times to come.  It was with this mindset that she wrote “Lucky” where one can have it all yet know they can lose it at any time.  

La Force
La Force

After changing her tuning to the grunge/metal tuning of Drop D, she reached back in her repertoire to a former project (AroarA) with husband Andrew Whiteman with the song “#4.” Since it was only her and her drummer, she told us to imagine this cool second guitar solo layered into the song.   


 She ended the evening with a weight of the world cover song that is simply noted as “Another W.” on the setlist.  It was such an intimate setting; I did not want to ruin the atmosphere by taking out my cell phone and take notes.  

La force charmed us with her wit, impressed us with her voice and won us over…if we hadn’t been won over already.  

She taught us that true power is being vulnerable and that we should appreciate the peaks that are in our life now but prepare for the inevitable valleys that are to come. It makes me think of a heartbeat, the peaks and valleys.  If our heartbeat was a simple straight line…we wouldn’t be living, would we?

Review: Randal Wark is a Professional Speaker and MasterMind Facilitator with a passion for live music.  You can follow him on InstagramTwitter and YouTube.

Photos: Eric Brisson

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