The Mile-Ex End is in its third edition. The musical portion of this very young neighborhood festival began on Friday.
Under the Van Horne-Rosemont viaduct, we are greeted by food trucks and picnic tables. And by the music coming from the Mile-Ex scene, the largest one, directly under the big concrete structure. Smaller than the other scene (erected a few meters away), it remains very modest.
And that's good. The Mile-Ex End has this charming air of neighborhood fete which gives it a particular character. When there is a crowd, in the evening, it remains a pleasant mass of spectators. We walk with no difficulty, there is always room to sit between the green space and street furniture.
Shortly after 6:30 pm, on the smallest scene (Mile-End), the French Adam Naas and his three musicians take place while the sun is already shy. It's windy and cool, as can be these evenings at the end of August.
Then, Naas's voice invades the atmosphere and suddenly, you feel less wind. It's hot when he sings. His soulful voice is sensual and powerful at the same time.
Eyes heavily painted in black, hair slanted backwards, a large shirt on a white T-shirt, he captivates. The French media say of him that he is the perfect mix of Prince and Childish Gambino … And this is the best description that we could find of Adam Naas. A tasty amalgam of both styles, with a lot of originality that comes only from him. He thinks a bit about Hubert Lenoir. He sings songs in English to kiss in the bushes (his suggestion, before interpreting The Love), others to dance, always with bewitching intensity.
In front of him, the public is of an interesting heterogeneity. Young couples rub shoulders with small families, young adults from Mile-Ex and Mile-End, older viewers and those still in need of helmets that block their sound. This is the Mile-Ex End effect. Once again, this little intimate air of neighborhood celebration.
Later in the evening, two members of The Broken Social Scene arrive at Mile-Ex End. First, the Montrealer La Force.
While daylight has given way to light bulbs suspended under the viaduct, Ariel Engle (his real name) offers his music. Her music to her. Not that of her group, not that of the duo she briefly formed with her husband (on stage with her on Friday), but a music born of her only. Dressed in a khaki green jumpsuit, the singer-songwriter presents songs "written in the streets of Montreal", imbued with the city. What's better for an event so ardently Montreal?
She then sings a title "written at the corner of Pine and St. Lawrence", strongly tinged with oriental accents. Many of his songs play in these tones, arranged to pop, rock and electro.
Having fun with a sometimes more experimental sound, the singer quickly convinces the audience. We are far from what the beloved Broken Social Scene offers. Engle's solo project, begun just two years ago, has a unique, promising flavor.
To conclude this first evening, Feist (Leslie Feist) takes the main stage. But just before she joins her friend Ariel for her last song.
The two women reappear on the other scene moments later. The Force helps introduce the show, in beautiful harmonies. Then, Feist takes things in hand alone.
And she offers an excellent performance. The experienced Nova Scotian, in her pretty white dress, is what's called a rock star (or, say, folk star). She has voice, melodies, unwanted guitar playing and attitude.
The singer tries as much as possible to address the audience in French. She is sincerely touched to hear the Montrealers sing the words of her songs by heart – as if it was not obvious that her prolific career of ten years could offer her such moments.
The intimate backdrop is ideal for that magical moment Leslie Feist offers. The public distracted (and, therefore, noisy) behind the crowd or small technical glitches in the early sound performance could disturb this pleasant moment.