Saul Williams and Spoek Mathambo at La Tulipe, Montreal – Concert review and photos

April 2, 2012

Saul Williams at La Tulipe, Montreal - photo Liz Keith, Music Vice

Where: La Tulipe, Montréal, QC
When: 24 March 2012
In One Word: Brilliant

Priorities, Montréal.
Je comprends que tu aimes tes 80s nights… *BUT* câlisse, when you have a band in town at your venue, let alone the brilliant and talented Saul Williams and South Africa’s Spoek Mathambo, it’s PUPPET SHOW SECOND – as in, the 80s night can wait until next week. Starting a show at seven so that you can kick everyone out by ten so that the masses can listen to the same dozen hits that none of the audience were old enough to remember when they were new… no.  Let the headliner headline the night and let’s have a proper bloody show at an hour when people aren’t still eating their dinner.

Do the opening act the courtesy of that, at least – because the folks who didn’t show up until later missed out on a great, though brief set by Spoek Mathambo, he of the deadly brilliant ghost-in-the-machine rendering of Joy Division’s “She’s Lost Control.”  “Control” was hyped up at this show with a sax, switching up the original moody feverish pulse but still recognizable to most everyone there (or me, at least). Throwing around slippery beats, gritty electro and soft-is-strong vox spitting clever dirty lyrics, those in attendance were won over easily by the bespectacled Mathambo. Come baaaack, play a longer set.

The brilliant and prolific Saul Williams opened his set with “Coded Language,” invoking the names of rebels and prophets, gods and poets, welcoming them with a square cowhide drum before segueing into “Patience,” his beats matched by Pegasus Warning on drums.  With “Explain My Heart,” and “Look to the Sun,” the percussion hit a frenetic heartbeat that ran through the night, with poetry and rap sewn together with stitches of spoken word – the latter where Williams’ roots lie, but have since spread beyond.  The themes in William’s music run thoughtfully through the political and the personal, while his lyrics boast an inner bareness matched by the spitfire intellect of their delivery; I dare your heart not to break at the collision of masculinity and racism in “Black Stacey” or think twice about gender divisions on “Girls on Saturn.” And as always, Williams wields a sharp emotional intelligence backed up by copious ass-shaking beats.  As a photographer, hip-hop shows are some of the hardest to shoot – you try getting a steady shot when it’s impossible to keep your head from bobbing or your ass from shaking – and by the end of night I’ll need a chiropractor butohmygod don’t you know it was worth it.

© Liz Keith, Music Vice

Photos of Saul Williams and Spoek Mathambo at La Tulipe (click to enlarge each attachment to view large):

Internet links:
Saul Williams

Spoek Mathambo

Liz Keith – EJK photography

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