As the city is slowly blanketed in snow, Molly Johnson graced Montreal with her band and songs.
With more pipes than the Mario Bros, Molly can sure fill a room with her presence.
Tonight, it would be the Corona Theatre that would welcome her with open arms and assigned seating.
Molly came out with her elegant long white hair, dressed in gym pants, enhanced with sparkly stripes.
A funky beat started us off, and we were transported to 1971 when Marvin Gaye released Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler).
So many legendary artists have left their signature inside Molly’s voice. As her voice fills the room, it is teaming with a richness that commands attention.
She next told us about how Montreal fit so well into Rain. She tried to swap it with Quebec, during last night’s performance in Quebec City, but “it just don’t work.”
The performance was enhanced by Molly’s candid in-between-song banter, reminding me of the wit of Tom Waits.
There were some serious moments when she spoke about the impact that Daisy Peterson had on Canadian music, which included teaching Oliver Jones and her brother Oscar Peterson. She should not be forgotten.
The piano next started, as a rendition of Don’t Explain by Billie Holiday was performed. This song was highlighted by a bass solo by Mike Downes.
She introduced Lady Day, by asking those too young to know Gil Scott-Heron to “Google it. I see 5 of you.” Yes, this was a more mature audience.
This song allowed Colleen Allen on sax to shine, as well as Robi Botos on keys.
Molly next introduced a good friend whom she has known for over 30 years, Billy Newton Davis, who tore the house down for Gramma’s Hands. At 70 years old, his zestful presence lifted the energy in the room. Wow.
She next sang a seasonal song, before the intermission.
Maybe This Year started us off, after the break and Painted Blue continued with the lonely songs.
She talked about the tiny town she lived in, which is probably Hopetown, the song she next played.
Billy joined again for Brighter Day and was eventually invited to come to the front where he got the crowd to clap and sway, infusing us with an energy that was infectious, the good kind for once.
Molly thanked the audience. “We can’t do this without you. The whole zoom thing…” and a single finger was raised…you know the one…echoing the sentiment of all who missed live shows.
Molly shared that at 62 years of age, she is having fun. She admits, after 50, you stop caring what others think, which is a freedom I have come to also enjoy.
She ended the set with Winter Wonderland which elicited a standing ovation.
After a brief pause, the encore was the energetic L.O.V.E. followed by her heartfelt thanks, reminding us to “be kind.”
Molly and her band performed an intimate set, as if she was in our living room, as she admitted.
We enjoyed the soulful sounds and jazzy vibe that Holly can provide effortlessly.
As we returned to the winter wonderland, we are reminded that although it may be cold outside, our hearts can still be warm, if we choose to listen to the right music.
Tonight…we were toasty.
Photos – Kieron Yates
Writer: Randal Wark is a Professional Speaker and MasterMind Facilitator with a passion for live music. You can follow him on Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. His Podcast RockStar Today helps musicians quit their day jobs with out-of-the-box advice from Ted Talk Speakers, Best Selling Authors and other interesting Entrepreneurs and Creatives. He created the Rock Star Today MasterMind Experience for musicians. Randal also is a collector of signed vinyl.Share this :