ARTISTE: Patrick Watson
VENUE: Esplanade Recital Studio
WHAT a rare creature of wonder, this beardie angel called Patrick Watson.
As head honcho of the Montreal foursome of the same name, he has a voice from the heavens.
It could scale alpine highs and come down for feline caresses - and the guy used the god-given talent at the band's sell-out debut gig here to ravishing effect.
Whether with the help of a kazoo, bird whistle or even a toilet plunger, he was a wide-eyed maestro of his own cinematic orchestra.
At times, the music could be the soundtrack to a Jean-Pierre Jeunet film, as one consorts with Amelie, dreaming up a carousel of characters, or unlikely word associations.
Indeed, if you need an expression to sum up the concert, it would be The Great Escape, the title of a track from the band's second album.
Surprisingly, Watson did not choose to sing it.
There was no need to.
For an hour and 45 minutes that elicited several standing ovations, the band - also comprising the deft stewardship of drummer Robbie Kuster, bassist Mishka Stein and guitarist Simon Angell - was a revelation.
Watson had said earlier that he wanted to make a sci-fi folk record with their third release, Wooden Arms, and the music, a manic yet staggeringly fragile contraption of steam punk and old-world romance, fully realised that vision.
Live, it rambled along, mid-air, like a Howl's moving castle; a lattice of cabaret, cowbells and 1940s cartoons that somehow came together and took your breath away.
Similarly, the lead singer was an audio-visual marvel.
How his eyes rolled back into their sockets, as if in a trance.
Whether nailing a Billie Holiday croon in Wooden Arms, singing in pitch dark To Build A Home and getting all misty-eyed with a new song for his late friend, singer Lhasa de Sela, this wiry, jerky Pied Piper abducted all hearts.
A magical moment occurred in one of the three encores.
With the auditorium dimmed, he strapped on a backpack with five tentacular megaphones that lit up, while his gypsy gang bowed a musical saw and stomped along.
He roused everyone to a singalong in an extended Man Under The Sea and delivered a genius song stitched from random lines tossed by fans.
Throughout, the audience smiled sheepishly, knowing how lucky they were.
This may very well end up as one of the best concerts of the year.
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