Dirty Three Ukrainian Federation, Montreal, QC, September 20

Dirty Three Ukrainian Federation, Montreal, QC, September 20
Photo: Steve Louie
Just who is Warren Ellis? Poet, fool or bum? "Make me sound like Jim Morrison,'' said the bard before taking questions and introducing the first song with an extensive monologue about a teenage hemorrhoid attached to Bono. By the end of the set, had Ellis's eyes turned red like a scene straight out of Horror Express, no member of the audience would have been surprised.

The beast was wild. With layers and layers of epic violin tracks atop of controlled chaos provided by Jim White's drumming — thank you, mate, for stepping away from 4/4 beats — and Mick Turner's stoic-dynamic/passive-aggressive approach to improvisation, the Silver Ariel trophy recipient and his crew tore into numbers like "Sometimes I Forget You've Gone" and "Some Summers They Drop Like Flies."

And as the magnitude of the sound kept being amped up by Ellis's demonic cries — coming from lungs that no human being can claim to be endowed with — the question at the back of the room was: who is making all that racket? Is the crowd chanting along, or has the band been granted with extra voices by a trick of the brain and a notch of metempsychosis?

Chances are this was Pop's strongest show so far. Someone give this man a microphone and let him try to out-cool Cave next time the Bad Seeds are in town. No, wait. Someone give this man a late-night show and let's make sure it does not take 10 more years for Dirty Three to come back to Montreal.

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