If you’ve ever had the chance to see Patrick Watson before you’d know that the Montreal band’s energy and genuine enthusiasm could light up a whole room by itself. In the launch show for their fifth album Love Song for Robots (released May 11th) at London’s Bush Hall this was literally true. Light bulbs inside white capsules pulsated simultaneously with the band’s current, giving off the illusion that they controlled electricity. In the mellow moments such as the new album’s title track, the lights flickered innocently but were always ready to hatch into full scale palpitations in the vigorous alternative rock of ‘Good Morning Mr. Wolf” – which was 10x more powerful than it’s restricted album version.
To match an extended rendering of the celestial interlude ‘In Circles’, a cluster of stars were projected onto the ceiling travelling through green lazer beams to create a temporary planetarium, leaving the crowd in a state of awe. Patrick Watson’s falsetto and his band’s schizophrenic mix of post-rock, classical, blues and folk was so captivating it left their fans in a state of trance- resulting in the delays of applause and a respectful lack of muttering.
Considerate frontman Watson showed his sociable rapport with his devoted cult of disciples by inviting them into a circle of harmonies, performing ‘Into Giants’, as he stood centrally among them without a microphone and acting as a choir conductor. He also treated them to the intimate piano piece ‘To Build A Home’ – a surprise inclusion due it being labelled under The Cinematic Orchestra project.
The set wasn’t technically flawless-a few hiccups in the guitar tuning and bass volume- but Watson ironed out the awkwardness with his humour about his luck with London weather, the predictability of encores and a charming explanation of his new tracks including: an obsession with Dr Seuss for ‘Places You Will Go’ and a song about forgetting everything for ‘Alone In This World’, which showed experience and crisis management.
Patrick Watson possessed the full Wizard of Oz: courage, heart and a brain and yet he and his band weren’t looking to escape back home to his beloved Canada, after two encores showed that music is their addiction rather than compulsory occupation.
Photo credit: Mathieu Parisien