The Civil Wars in Montreal: I don’t love you but I always will

The Civil Wars

The Civil Wars played at the Amphitheatre du Gesú last night, October 29.

Studio albums have been always considered the artists at their best. The Civil Wars are one of those rare exceptions in which you can’t really capture their amazing and excellent live performance in a recording and do it justice. Seeing and mostly, hearing them live just blows anything recorded out of the water.

The raw intensity and talent they project on stage requires little to no backdrop. It does require intimacy and it did called for tenue lighting and a rather cozy but filled out venue. Gesú worked very well for their performance. I wish I had better pictures but having managed to secure a seat in the second row right in front of the stage (!!!) was beyond cool but also meant that I couldn’t really break out the flash right on their eyes. That’s why the pictures are all dark.

The Civil Wars

Joy Williams and John Paul White’s voices are extraordinary. They had more pitch, range and volume than almost anybody working in the music business that I could name. You’d think a duo could do with a back up band, but as they had said in interviews, more instruments would end up getting in the way. John Paul’s guitar skills more than provide the instrumentation necessary. Joy does go to the piano for a few sparse songs, but it’s their voices and lyrical prowess that have no equal.

As serious and somber as their performance is, they do incorporate some little drops on humor during the intermissions that were precious. Joy was extremely lovable and would not stop dancing and cracking a smile, while John Paul plays it straight to the point that any comment or wisecrack that breaks across will have you laughing in stitches. It’s like they know the seriousness of their songs needs a little smile now and then. They work really well which each other to provide that little bit of comedy: Joy brings the banter and the smile that bounces well with J. P. playing the straight and serious individual.

I don’t want to give you the impression they’re a comedy duo. Still, I would say that their banter (which is not romantic, they’re both married to someone else) adds more than detracts from the experience. Two artists doing the kind of soulful, inspirational and emotional musical craft that they do would not go far without charisma and charm to back it up and they have it in abundance. This is not classical music and I don’t really have the credentials to back this up, but please forgive me to be so bold as to claim this is music elevated to art.

The Civil Wars

They did asked about the turnout (the place was packed) and how did people had heard of them. The general cry was Grey’s Anatomy which featured their song Poison And Wine on one episode. I almost shouted out Taylor Swift, but I knew the reference would be lost for the most part of the audience. Still, in the back of my mind I felt guilty not having yell out the Sparkly Dressed’s name… but this was their night, and not anybody else’s.

They played 20 Years, I’ve Got This Friend (Joy said it was the only happy song they have), C’est La Morte, among others. They covered most of their album, including the title song which is a personal favorite, Barton Hollow, to great crowd reception. The highlight for most people seemed to be Poison And Wine, until they came back for an encore. They did haunting renditions of the Smashing Pumpkins’ The Killer In Me Is The Killer In You and Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean. Then they played Dance Me To The End Of Love, which became my favorite -and I think everyone’s- performance of the night.

You can see The Civil Wars performing Poison And Wine on the Late Show with David Letterman here:

Watch on YouTube

I would also like to say that the opening band, Milo Greene, does deserve a listen if you ever have a chance to see them as well. It’s an excellent band that deserves a record deal. They are touring with The Civil Wars through the fall.

The Civil Wars

Going back to the Taylor Nation, and coming up in the Calendar!

  • October 30: Memphis, Tennessee at FEDEX Forum. Sold Out.
  • November 5: Houston, Texas at Minute Maid Park. Click here for ticket info.
  • November 6: The HALO Awards air on Nickelodeon. Taylor Swift is one of the presenters.
  • November 9: The 45th Annual CMA Awards will air live from the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennesse at 8pm EST on ABC.
  • November 11: Jacksonville, Florida at Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena. Sold Out.
  • November 12: Tampa, Florida at St. Pete Times Forum. Click here for ticket info.
  • November 13: Miami, Florida at American Airlines Arena. Click here for ticket info.