Live Review: Patrick Watson at Lincoln Hall


Only six months has passed since Montreal-based musician Patrick Watson last visited Chicago. On his second visit,  he returned to Lincoln Hall to a completely different crowd. Months ago the crowd was half the size, composed of people who were mostly unfamiliar with his music. This time the hall was filled to capacity. People were singing along with Watson word for word for nearly every song. This was Watson’s second time touring through the U.S. in one year and, by judging by the crowd’s reaction, it was obvious that his last visit had made quite the impression.

Watson’s performance was brilliant, with his painstaking facial expressions illustrating the songs’ emotion, exhausting every bit of energy stored in his body to sing melodiously. His voice was impeccable and, when accompanied by the sweet harmonies of the violinist, the songs were that much more breathtaking. The lighting was intricate with the installations flickering glimpses of the stage, making for a delightful suspense that matched the music magnificently.

Watson was in usual form with his nonsensical banter as he giggled behind his grand piano, like a child at a circus just watching in amusement, as the band came together on stage. Even the bassist Mishka Stein, who usually stands in the back corner, acquiesced to join the band cuddling up front and center.

Watson took to the floor a couple of times during the set; first during the beautiful rendition of “Into Giants” from Adventures In Your Own Backyard (Secret City Records). He went from the microphone to the floor as the violinist played a quick interlude, and again when the guitarist, Simon Angell, shredded it up for a few minutes. Watson sat cross-legged, drink in hand with his eyes closed, smiling and shaking his head to the ferocious riffs and quips spilling out of Angell’s Fender Stratocaster. The percussion was impeding and insistent. The drummer, Robbie Kuster was surrounded by instruments, from glockenspiels to xylophones to random utensils like a toothbrush, a spoon and brass ring to name a few.

Watson came out for an insistent encore and played three more songs before he bowed bashfully to the crowd. “You know, I love it here. What a great city Chicago is.” He thanked a few other key players; one was the stand in guitarist Jeremy Ylvislaker (the lead guitarist in Andrew Bird’s band) for stepping in last minute and playing at the beginning of their set. The entire night was a foreshadowing of, what one can only imagine, should be an even more remarkable performance on his next tour through Chicago.

Set List

  1. Lighthouse
  2. Black wind
  3. Step Out For A While
  4. Quiet Crowd
  5. Words in a Fire
  6. Into Giants
  7. Instrumental
  8. Luscious Life
  9. Big Bird in a Small Cage
  10. Morning Sheets
  11. 11.Beijing
  12. Adventures in Your Own Backyard
  13. Noisy Sunday
  14. Where The Wild Things Are
  15. Sit Down Beside Me

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