Back when I was in my last year of high school, I used to listen to a lot of Mother Mother. The first time I saw this beloved Canadian band live was in 2017, and I got the chance to review their show in 2019. I even had the opportunity to interview Ryan Guldemond, lead singer and guitarist, just days before the show.
I have a lot of good memories associated with Mother Mother, but as time passes, you grow older. And when you grow older, your tastes change as well. I still really enjoy Mother Mother’s older material, but their newer records just never clicked with me. Despite not listening to them nearly as much as I used to, I still jumped at the opportunity to see them perform again, and I’m glad I did!
I arrived at the venue at around 7:45. The sun was still shining and a few people were gathered at the venue’s entrance, chatting and smoking together. I decided to make my way up the stairs and to the second floor to watch the opener from above. I found a seat, not long afterwards the house lights were killed, and three members of MONOWHALES took their positions at their respective instruments.
As they began to play the beginning to their song “RWLYD (Really Wanna Let You Down)”, my mind immediately went to dad rock. I’m talkin’ Papa Roach and Nine Inch Nails. The kind of music your dad would play for you in the car while he drove in silence. I’m a fan.
Finally, lead singer Sally Shaar made her way to the center of the stage, holding her microphone up to her mouth and with clear and crisp vocals, knocked the socks off everyone’s feet. Her voice was spectacular. Not only did it sound beautiful and rehearsed, but her articulation was excellent and clear to understand.
They played a few songs such as “He Said/She Said (I Wait)” and “Real Love”, all of which were heavy with emotion and performed so professionally. They sounded amazing.
They clearly were having fun too, each member danced around and interacted with each other. Sally Shaar would walk up to guitarist Zach Zanardo and pretend to punch him, to which he faked getting knocked back, it was a cute bit that showed the comradery the members shared.
Sally Shaar had the crowd wrapped around her finger. She was so engaging as she performed, interacting with the viewers in just the right way as she sang, capturing everyone’s attention.
As they took a short break to speak with the crowd, Shaar enthusiastically gave a warm “Bonjour Montreal!!”, which earned loud cheering from the audience. She spoke a bit about how boring it felt to not be able to perform and attend concerts during the pandemics lockdown. “Well I say out with the old and in with the new!” she exclaimed, “It’s a new time to share these moments and listen to music together!” They then followed up with a thrilling performance of their song “Out With the Old”.
I genuinely cannot tell you which moment in MONOWHALES’ performance was my favourite because their set was so excellently executed, I had a great time during its entirety. MONOWHALES was a perfect opening band for Mother Mother. Not only because they’re from Toronto, but because their powerful and captivating energy really brought up Montreal’s spirits to a beautifully high level for the rest of the night.
Now if there’s one thing that Mother Mother will consistently deliver to a live performance, it’s that they’re gonna have a damned good setlist. One by one, each member of this 5 piece band confidently walked onto stage, surrounded by the screaming from the filled Corona Theater. With Ryan Guldemond in center stage, and both Molly Guldemond and Jasmin Parkin on his left and right, the three started the set off with some vocalizations, opening the night with “Seven”.
Mother Mother are truly excellent performers. Every single time that I’ve seen them, I’m blown away by how perfectly they all play together, never once missing a beat and flowing through their setlist with ease. They continued on with tracks like “O My Heart”, “Let’s Fall in Love”, and “I Got Love”, all of which were sung loudly and proudly by the Montreal audience.
Ryan Guldemond took the time to address the crowd before him, saying hello and expressing his gratitude for everyone’s attendance. Just as he did with the last two Montreal concerts, he refers to our city as “medicine for the soul”, explaining that he looks forward to the Montreal date during every tour because the artistic energy the city has helps refuel his and the rest of the band’s energy.
“It was hard to be stuck at home for a couple of years.” Ryan starts off, looking around at his audience who were listening so intently. “It was hard because we couldn’t go to Montreal! Made me sad. I’m still sad! But being sad doesn’t mean the worst thing, it means the happy feels so good when it comes!” Cheering filled the room in thanks for his gentle words of encouragement. And with that, Mother Mother continued their set with songs such as “Sick of the Silence”, “Arms Tonite”, and “Life”.
As I watched Mother Mother perform some of their classic fan favourites, I remembered the thought I had to myself while on my way to the venue. I thought of how I had already seen them a couple times before, how I don’t listen to them nearly as much as I did back in 2019. I didn’t feel
excited to go. I stupidly thought that I wouldn’t enjoy this show as much as I would have a few years ago. Boy was I wrong about that. While standing there watching all those flashing lights, the high energy each band member had while dancing, listening to the music that made me feel so nostalgic about being a teenager, I remembered that music is meant to be enjoyed no matter what might’ve changed. Whether you’ve grown older and like different things, or maybe the artist just isn’t putting out records that you love as much as older material, or if you feel like seeing an artist perform more than once will just get old, you can always count on things like nostalgia to revive that spark. And honestly, seeing Mother Mother for the third time still had me surprised by how great they are at live performance.
They grab onto the viewer’s attention and they refuse to let go of it, using tools such as lighting, the beautiful voices of Molly Guldemond and Jasmin Parkin, and transitions between each song that unexpectedly slap you in the face, surprising you with something old and collectively loved.
The crowd went absolutely wild for tracks like “Ghosting”, “Verbatim”, and “Oh Ana”, but nothing could compare to how Mother Mother ended their set. The familiar opening riff to the beloved “Hayloft” drew screams of pure joy from the throat of everyone in attendance, and every single lyric was sung so loudly and clearly. Everyone danced and sang together, joining Mother Mother in their thrilling performance of the two-part story.
After bidding farewell, all 5 members of Mother Mother left the stage, leaving Corona Theater demanding for more. Screams and claps and stomping filled the room, roaring Montreal’s plea for an encore. Of course, the pleading was answered, and Mother Mother made their way back to their positions on stage, and ended the night with “Dirty Town” and “Burning Pile”.
The band Mother Mother expresses that Montreal is rejuvenating to them, but what I hope they realize is that the feeling is mutual. When Mother Mother is in town, it’s the perfect time to get together and proudly enjoy music created by Canadians. They’ll definitely be back to perform in this beautiful city, there’s not a single doubt in my mind. So while you wait for your next chance to see Mother Mother live, give their latest album called “Inside” a listen. After witnessing that performance I’m sure to be enjoying it.
Review – Jamie Siddall
Photos – Eric Brisson