Men I Trust + Tess Roby @ Corona Theatre

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Men I Trust in Montreal

There are postponements, and there are postponementsMen I Trust were supposed to play this show in March 2020, just a few days after COVID arrived in the middle of that month and changed our worlds forever.  This show has been mired in an endless cycle of reschedules and cancellations for over 2 years, and when things finally seemed to have aligned, members of the band then tested positive earlier this month, forcing what had now morphed into a 3-night homestand to slide out another couple of weeks.  But at long last, we are here!  

Tess Roby in Montreal

Its local singer-songwriter Tess Roby who opens the show in stellar fashion, with her brand of ethereal electronica that reminds me so much of Half Waif; they kinda look similar at this distance from the balcony too, come to mention it.  Perhaps it’s a hometown bias or perhaps it’s just that she’s really good (I suspect the latter), but the reception from the crowd is incredible throughout the 30-minute set, so much so that even Tess comments early on, “that’s the response that makes me love this!” and “you’re such an amazing crowd, I love you!”  Prior to Catalyst, she asks so politely “this is a quiet song, so if someone next to you is talking, please shush them – just for this one though!”  It works, as the bustling Corona Theatre falls deathly silent for the duration.  A blissful start to the evening.

And so Men I Trust finally appear on stage, only 25 months later than planned!  Frontwoman Emmanuelle Proulx immediately expressed their gratitude to finally be playing these shows, in the thickest Quebecois accent imaginable.  Night 2’s set follows the same pattern as Night 1, with the funky grooves of Tailwhip under icy blue spotlights getting the dancefloor moving right off the bat.  The set draws heavily from 2019’s acclaimed breakthrough Oncle Jazz and 2021’s perfectly titled Untourable Album (which weirdly, wouldn’t have existed had these shows been played when they were originally planned!).  

As the 75-minute show rolls, you realize one thing is for sure – Men I Trust like to stay in their lane.  There are no epic grandiose stadium highs, nor are there any fragile delicate acoustic lows; just a consistent laid-back funk lane with occasional detours.  And that totally works on this drizzly Wednesday.  That’s just fine.

Oh Dove features keyboardist Dragos Chiriac doing his best vocoder impression of Air, while guitarist Jessy Charon almost goes full hair metal (metaphorically speaking, obviously) on the massive solo on Serenade of Water.  The experimental jazz-club guitar solo of Always Lone is a lot like the kind of guitar solo you’ll probably see lots of at Jazz Fest in a few months time (minus being surrounded by hoards of people-who-don’t-actually-want-to-be-there-but-felt-like-they-should-be), and sees Jessy lit up by all the spotlights as the rest of the band goes dark.  2017’s Humming Man is another surprise highlight in the live setting, with its pounding drum intro complemented massively by Jessy’s distorted pedalboard effects.

Seven is the perfect closer for the main set, with its perfect summer vibes accompanied by the flashing yellow lights across the stage, and after a brief pause, Emmanuelle returns with an excitable “BEIN LE, MERCI!”  A huge singalong accompanies the spooky Show Me How, before Say Can You Hear rounds out the evening, sounding positively thunderous compared to the chill that has gone before.  As the band depart the stage to applause and screams from a packed Corona, one thing is for sure: it was worth the wait.

Setlist

  1. Tailwhip
  2. Oh Dove
  3. Sugar
  4. Lucky Sue
  5. Serenade of Water
  6. Lifelong Song
  7. Porcelain
  8. Tree Among Shrubs
  9. Break for Lovers
  10. Days Go By
  11. Always Lone
  12. You Deserve This
  13. Dorian
  14. Humming Man
  15. All Night
  16. Seven

Encore

  1. Show Me How
  2. Say, Can You Hear

Review – Simon Williams
Photos – Steve Gerrard

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