Medley, Montréal Canada, sat. march 23, 1996

5 04 2008

25th anniversary concert

Here is my “First Impression” about what I experienced this GREAT weekend:

First of all, I was a little bit anxious to meet all of these friends from the mailing list. It’s always a curious feeling when you first see someone you only know by his (or her) letters. In the end, I was VERY happy to find out how lovely they were: Ronnee, Elaine, Arlo and Shawn, naturally. 🙂

Before the show:

We arrived at the Medley at 4PM. Arlo had called me at work on Friday and asked me to come early to meet him. All the doors were locked when we arrived and there was nobody there to ask to let us in… Fortunately, one crew member went out the back door and didn’t close the door well behind him, allowing us to get in back stage. Inside, we finally found Arlo, talked a bit and chose our seats, reserving two more places for Shawn Simser and/or JF. After exchanging albums with Arlo and Shawn Simser, we had a very fine dinner. The show was sponsored by TV TQS, CFGL Radio, TV Hebdo, Bell Telephone, Boreal (fortunately one of my favorite beers). I saw people there of all ages.

After a while, we decided to try to go to see Shawn in his dressing room. Shawn openly accepted us. I found him to be a man of great warmth and simplicity that put me at ease. We (me, my wife Diane, Elaine, Ronnee and Shawn) talked of all kinds of things, from the “Declaration of Independence of Cyberspace” to the weird dreams he had been having due to the nicotine patch he’d been using. (yes, Shawn has stopped after 44 years of smoking). Despite the fact that he seemed tired when we arrived, he was in better shape when we left him to see the first part of the show. Seeing that Shawn Simser prefered to keep his seat, and that we hadn’t seen anyone else from the mailing list, we offered our two free seats to Jean-Phillippe Garriépy (a musician who does a very fine Shawn Phillips tribute) and his sister. Unfortunatly, the Medley was overcrowded (1400 people in a place that normally seates 1200). 

The Opening Act:

..was very good and percussive. I was expecting a quiet woman singing soft blues songs. I found a dynamic Manon Brunet singing a gorgeous blues. Bravo!

Now, the show:

After a short break, the show began. The lights went down, and only an acoustic guitar in a glass cage was lit. After the cage filled with smoke, 2 guys turned the cage and opened it… to the audience’s applause, Shawn stepped out, guitar in hand! Personally, I prefer this kind of entrance instead of the usual way, with the musician walking though the scene. This was a David Copperfield trick Shawn borrowed directly from him. 

Instantly, the feeling was instilled in the audience and the music began with Bright White. Shawn was performing with a pretty good group of local musicians. Despite minor problems with a broken guitar string and the electronic foot pedals, Shawn gave a generous performance. It’s true that his voice is not the same as when he was young and the microphone was too unidirectionnal, but I found all the feeling that Shawn had always put in his music, although the crowd was noisy at certain times. I really dislike the sound of the pool table….Why the hell do they allow people to play pool during a concert?!?!?… I don’t understand how some people come to a show and talk all through the show, paying no attention to the performance at all… Anyway, it was trivial… One of my friends was seeing Shawn for the first time and stood up at the rear of the Medley through the entire show and enjoyed it. He heard the cello very well, but unfortunately I couldn’t from where I was sitting. Except for the cello, the sound was well balanced in the front of the stage. 

In the middle of his performance, Shawn received an award presented by Manon Brunet for his all time best selling album “Second Contribution”. I liked the funky version of Moonshine. The encore, Woman, (though not my favorite) was very impressive and earned a standing ovation for Shawn and the band.

After the concert:

We waited to talk with Shawn and Arlo before leaving The Medley together. We left at about 1:30AM.


True, I would have prefered to see Shawn with Peter Robinson and Paul Buckmaster… True, Shawn’s voice is not what it once was… True, another place, like a true concert hall, would have been better…

But, in spite of everything, I very much enjoyed being there with such lovely ladies as Ronnee and Elaine, talking with Arlo and sharing a moment with Shawn.

My FIRST IMPRESSION of Shawn Phillips was unforgettable…







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