Andra Day made a triumphant return to Montréal this past weekend to a nearly sold-out Corona Theatre. The show in whole was a steady ride through highlight cuts off her debut album Cheers to the Fall, with a handful of choice covers from admired “big voices” in pop culture. Staying true to her vintage style, Andra Day stood in front of an old-school microphone and let the emotions pour out to Montréal .
First of all, the sound inside the venue was the best I’ve heard it yet. There was a magical connection between Andra, the band and the sound tech’s for the evening. The show began just after 9:30 with a smooth start, effortlessly singing Forever Mine and my personal favourite Gold.
Andra stopped for a moment to talk to the crowd before hitting her rendition of Nina Simone’s Mississippi Goddam. A song she dubbed a favourite to play for it’s ability to create a conversation. Here the bar was set for the night, and a narrative had been created for the show. One that stayed strong through the set-list elevating the purpose from a showcase of songs to a real intimate experience with the soul singer.
Andra Day has this captivating way about her when she speaks that feels so genuine. The presence behind her in front of a crowd is remarkable. One of my favourite moments came when introducing her cover of Kendrick Lamar’s No Make Up.
Back to that on-going narrative behind this show, here we saw Andra talk about how vulnerable we can be hiding behind these standards of beauty. As she removed her make-up before the crowd she elaborated that as she pulls off these layers of outer self the negative people in her/our life tend to show their true face as well. Often leaving us for the better. An intelligent statement on beauty standards and personal truths.
A very special connection in the show came during her single Rise Up. A moment I will forever hold as a top experience at a concert, ever.
This is arguably her most known selection, having been nominated and performed at this years’ Grammy Awards. The narrative here continuing and coming to a closing point, Andra gave some choice words about insecurities, stress, anxiety and all the negative things we as humans carry on our shoulders. I had never associated this song with these feelings, but couldn’t help feeling a swell of emotions as she asked the audience to join her and sing loud enough for the whole city to hear us.
The result was a very powerful moment with Andra, allowing the audience to sing the song back to her. The volume behind the audience who joined in was something else. So much so that I was reduced to tears in the best way. I couldn’t quite wrap my head around what I just felt in this moment, not until the next couple days of sitting meditation on the experience.
After feeling the passion here, I left wanting to be a better person for no one other than myself. For that I thank you Andra Day and all those who made this show possible for me.
I want to talk for a moment on the surreal talent’s of backup singer and keyboardist Charles Jones. Immediately captivated by this man’s skills on the keys and a voice that added a beautiful layer in octave contrast with Andra. Presented to us as her “special gift,” Andra shifted the focus directly to him for a cover of Sam Cooke’s A Change is Gonna Come. Leaving the audience uplifted and ready for more Andra, who had taken a moment behind stage.
Last thing I need to touch on was the closing cover of Queen’s I Want It All. Again, paying homage to the “great voices of music”, this song is not an easy feat. Not easy when you don’t have the range of an incredible singer, that is.
If she hadn’t before, right here on this song she solidified herself in line with these voices of impact, and forever will be grouped in with the Nina Simone’s, the Freddie Mercury’s and the Adele’s(yeah, I went there) of the world.
Whenever you have a chance to experience Andra Day live, take it. She will not disappoint.
Photo Credit: Alexandre Osi Denommee