Ray LaMontagne Massey Hall, Toronto ON April 15
Published Apr 20, 2009Massey Hall is a massive venue for a man of very few words, who barely ever talks above an audible whisper. Ray LaMontagne's thin, lean body holding that acoustic guitar looked so frail and overpowered by the massive space containing hundreds of screaming fans. But when that potent voice soared into the rafters, he definitely filled the space up, and a mutual "wow" rippled through the audience when he really belted it out.
Opening with "You Are the Best Thing," the latest single from his new record Gossip in the Grain, the crowd was immediately drawn into his world. He and his three-piece band were not much to look at as there was hardly any movement on stage, but if you concentrated on the music alone, it was remarkable that this utterly sublime, intoxicating voice was emerging from this passive, inhibited person. There were no pauses in between songs; no chatter, no intros and no communication except for the occasional "thank you" before he jumped right into the next song.
The highlight of the show was when the band left the stage and LaMontagne stood there all alone and sang "Burn" with what seemed like a fire brewing from the bottom of his heart. He went on to play a passionate rendition of "Jolene" before the band rejoined him. With songs from all three of his releases, the majority of then came from his first CD Trouble, which people seemed to enjoy best.
He played in almost pitch blackness almost as if to separate himself from the audience. He poured his emotions out but it almost seemed like he thought they couldn't reach anybody. He did everything right - everything you need to do to put on a great show except make himself emotionally available to the crowd. If only he knew how bad we needed him to reciprocate the love we felt for what he provided.