Posted by: TomA | 15 June 2007

Days 45 & 46: Montréal

Montréal. Having spent the first two or three days wandering around Mont-Royal and The Plateau areas of Montréal (which are predominantly French speaking areas), we eventually headed out to explore the rest of the city. The Old Montreal (Vieux Montréal) was a mixture of pleasant cobblestone streets and grand old buildings, clogged by naff tourist shops selling the usual bewildering variety of crap. The area itself is quite small, we were soon wandering into the downtown area – much the same as any other North American city we’ve visited. Throughout our stay in Montréal it was hot – really stiflingly hot. As such, we did far less exploration than everywhere else we’ve been; instead choosing to laze about in French cafés sipping on cold drinks of lazing in the parks under a tree with a book. Most of the day was simply too hot to do much else.

Most of our Montréal experiences (as elsewhere) seemed to have involved food. Highlights include some great bagels from Fairmont Bagels (apparently making 2000 of them an hour, open 24 hours a day); a fantastic French fish sausage (crammed full of scallops, lobster, salmon, crab and more) and poutine (chips with cheese curds and gravy, though ours seemed a touch less than authentic with grated cheese yet no gooey curds). Montréal has fantastic beer though (albeit much of it brewed in smaller towns around Quebec), making a nice change from the last couple of places we’ve been. Toronto, our next stop, is supposed to be especially bad for finding a beer that isn’t brewed by Miller or Pabst.

Having thought I’d really love Montréal, I’m still uncertain how I feel about it. There was less there that really stood out for me in the 5 days we were in the city than expected, though I feel it may be more of a city to live in than visit; much like I expect Vancouver was. We were unlucky in not finding a lot of the flourishing arts scene putting on things we wanted to see during our stay; though we did head out to a gig to see a girl perform that Claire had come across through her work at the radio. She (I forget her name) was good fun; the guy headlining (Peter Katz) was perhaps the least inspired, most insipid, middle of the road, tedious, watery and boring musican I’d seen for a long long time. We entertained ourselves by making paper boats, lighthouses, rocks and waves before a suitable moment came about to sneak out…

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Responses

  1. I’d just like to respond to your aggressive, uninformed review of Peter Katz’s performance in Montreal: Peter Katz is the most exciting, energetic force of nature I’ve yet to see in any live musical performance. Period. I’m sorry you missed the paper boat. Also, I’m sorry you found Montreal’s performance scene sub-par, considering the hundreds of shows going on at the Fringe Fest during your stay. Perhaps your paper diorama was made from the multiple Fringe flyers on your table at PK’s show.
    I’m glad you liked the bagels.

  2. I’d disagree with uninformed – I sat through at least 30 minutes of his set, providing me with a great deal of information. I found his music dull – a combination of a voice I found ordinary (even irritating), fairly standard song writing (not once was there anything ‘unexpected’ in a song) and generally obvious melodic parts. I prefer me music to do something more – be it challenge, entertain, excite, etc etc; his I found comparable to a host of British and North American singer songwriters, none of whom appeal.
    Having said that, he can sing and his band was tight, but nothing in his set drew me in. Hence the scathing review.

    Everywhere I’ve been there’s been hundreds of shows going on, and when you’re only in a city for a few days, it is obviously impossible to get a real feel for it. But having heard about the excellent quality of the arts scene in Montreal and knowing a large number of my favourite artists have some connection to the city, I was disappointed not to find something that I really wanted to go to. I’m sure, with more information, I’d have found things happening I’d have loved, but that isn’t the point. You can only make a judgement on what you’ve experienced, not what you might have.

  3. I’m VERY disappointed to read your (I’ll agree, “aggressive”) review of Peter Katz’s performance as he is, hands down, my favourite performer, songwriter, singer, artist, etc, on the face of this Earth. I write record and show reviews on a regular basis, and I have yet to understand why anyone would bother writing anything negative… it’s okay not to like something, but I think, generally uncalled for to tear something/someone apart. I gather you don’t believe in “If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all”. But, to each his own, I suppose.

    The girl who opened was named Kyrie Kristmanson.

    Thanks for coming. And for leaving. 🙂

  4. here’s where this comment belonged.. whoops

    I would really like you to give me examples of why Peter Katz is any of the things you said, beyond a shadow of a doubt… beyond whatever pathetic biases you might live by. Prove your point. You obviously think you know a thing or two about music, given what you’ve said about him; so, i’m just curious..

    I’m sure reading that you can tell I disagree somewhat,, yet, i’m not close-minded, you might be able to turn me around. Let’s hear your case. -TD

  5. Wow, an influx of Peter Katz fans and I’ve no idea how you came across this page… Hello 🙂

    The point of writing a negative review is blindingly obvious, isn’t it? Imagine a world in which there were only glowing reviews of everything. Critics didn’t criticise. You’d only ever read fantastic reviews of new plays, films, books, albums, cars, washing machines; everything would appear to be great. It needn’t be – those who thought otherwise hadn’t expressed their (potentially useful) views.
    Plus, it’s hardly like a wrote a lot about him, it was just a couple of lines. Come on.

    I found his music boring. When I listen to a song, I want it to do something for me, to entertain me, to move me, to provoke me, to make ponder something, whatever. Singer-songwriter style stuff is especially difficult – every man and his dog has a go at it. And the majority aren’t very good, often sounding similar. So you really need something extra. Emotion helps.
    However, it’s tricky to genuinely convey emotion, passion, interest. I want to feel, when I listen, I’m hearing something personal, seeing an aspect of their soul, how they think, how they feel, etc. Their voice needn’t be fantastic, it may even help if it isn’t. More than anything, I want some personality. And for me, this didn’t come across. Lyrically I wasn’t interested in what he had to say, I’d heard it all before. Musically, he came across as formulaic. Personally, he didn’t open up to the audience, he didn’t expose himself, he was too comfortable.
    I apologise – that last bit makes me sound particularly voyeuristic, which isn’t how it is intended. I don’t believe only good “art” (in whatever form) comes from those troubled or depressed; equally compelling art can originate from those content, happy or thankful.

    Anyway, the gig was months ago. I stand by my original statement.

  6. This is equally hilarious and ridiculous. To begin with ‘anonymous’, I believe Tom’s comment of being ‘unlucky in not finding a lot of the flourishing arts scene putting on things we wanted to see during our stay’, is hardly calling Montreal’s art scene sub-par. And sorry to bring up the most obvious and overdone argument but it is, if you please, about personal opinion. Fair enough if you people genuinely believe he is is your ‘favourite performer, songwriter, singer, artist, etc, on the face of this Earth’, but why should you be so insecure as to express yourselves so unnecessarily and somewhat rudely? Tom isn’t writing for the worldwide music press, attacking and slating this man’s name across the world. He was expressing a personal opinion to his friends. Friends who will I’m sure, seeing as how we all have similar music taste, will agree with him.
    If you’re honestly feeling so defensive that you feel the need to write such things on a stranger’s blog, I can only conclude that you’re somewhat insecure about it. On the other hand, if you honestly believe people would be put off an artist by one stranger’s blog writings in passing, I fear you have a very low opinion of your fellow Peter Katz fans.
    And ps, my opinion too is that his music was unimaginative. If you enjoy it, then so be it, but personally I believed it was a line somewhere between David Gray/ James Blunt/ latter Damien Rice, which of course is popular so perhaps he’ll do well. But for people who look for rather different interesting elements, from what I’ve heard of this man’s music live and on record, he will not suffice.


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