La Vallée de Jean Leloup
par Spencer Ross
dans The McGill Tribune, 11 novembre 2003

Famed Québécois singer-songwriter Jean Leloup returned to the touring spotlight here in Montreal, as he played a string of sold-out shows at Metropolis this past weekend. Leloup, fresh from the success of his 2002 release, La Vallée des Réputations, brought his Big Band with him to accompany his varied songwriting styles.

The evening opened with a shortened jam session by the Big Band, which consisted of three backup singers, trumpets, trombones, saxophones and various other instruments. This led into the backup singers' introduction of "Bertha," from 1998's Les Fourmis. From there, Leloup ripped through a 50-minute set, reaching back into his catalogue and showcasing his talent for amusing audiences.

During his second set, Leloup came on stage with his acoustic guitar, playing a couple of songs by himself before the rest of the band appeared for "Ballade à Toronto," the first radio single from La Vallée. After an hour-long second set, he and the band followed with a four-song encore, again featuring a solo Leloup on acoustic guitar for the first two songs. A short rendition of Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here" fed its way into an abridged yet soulful performance of "Je joue de la guitare."

It is rare for a concert to feature the headlining band without an opener, but even rarer for the headliner to play a two-and-a half-hour show. Leloup, however, had no problem keeping the crowd on its toes for the entire time. As with any skilled musician, his mastery of his own songs allowed him to make the interesting transformation from studio release to a live concert.

With the added backing of the Big Band, songs like "Les remords du commandant" and "Faire des enfants" took on flavours ranging from ska to folk to rock 'n' roll. Leloup's adeptness was particularly showcased in "Voilà," which featured a lengthy tango jam where he and another gentleman danced with the backup singers onstage.

Leloup's skill as a musical storyteller and his ability to spice up the show with jokes created a warm atmosphere that kept the crowd constantly engaged. In fact, the crowd's fanaticism led them to the demand a second encore 10 minutes after the house lights were raised.

The increased ticket demand for last weekend's shows led to the addition of two more shows this weekend, again with the Big Band. It should only stand to reason that Jean Leloup's energy and talent will make these shows just as enjoyable.

Photo: Media Credit: AUDIOGRAM.COM: Tabernac! C'est Jean Leloup!
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