Colin Stetson Theatre Rialto, Montreal QC, September 27

Colin Stetson Theatre Rialto, Montreal QC, September 27
Photo: Steve Louie
Colin Stetson opened his Pop Montreal set with the self-titled track from New History Warfare Vol. 2: Judges, sung, played and tapped out in Stetson's singular, logic-defying way. By the song's end, he had already broken a sweat, opening his perpetually closed eyes every now and then to gaze upwards momentarily, as if in lieu of breathing. As usual, the crowd ate it up, and rightly so: even with self-proclaimed "broken bones," Stetson still played with his usual verve, for the most part. He winced as he replaced the tenor sax he used on "Judges" with his signature bass sax, suggesting he's still not 100% healed from the accident that almost caused him to miss his Polaris Music Prize gala performance.

New History Warfare Vol. 3: To See More Light's "Hunted" seemed a little rushed, but typically rousing takes on "High Above A Grey Green Sea" and "A Dream of Water" validated Stetson's claim that it felt good to be back onstage for his first full show in a while. His plan to play two pieces of new material was unfortunately derailed by his sore fingers, but when a desperate fan foolishly asked if he could "still play one," he responded with his signature wit that "I just told you the exact reason why I can't," and promised that he could "still play old songs that are ridiculously hard."

He made good on it with the climactic "To See More Light" before closing with "Part Of Me Apart From You" and "In Love And In Justice," providing the perfect cap to another one of Stetson's stirring live performances.

See more photos from Pop Montreal in our gallery here.