Lisa LeBlanc et Steamers ont playé un amazing spectacle pour un sold out foule at Ritual Nightclub jeudi night.

The pride of Eastern Canada, Lisa LeBlanc took to the stage as the crowd chanted her name. She got things started with the whistling instrumental “Highways, Heartaches and Time Well Wasted” the title track of her latest release, her first ever in English. After the somewhat mellow start it was time to turn up the energy, an energy that never seemed to diminish even as the set went well into the next day.

“I am going to speak both of the French and English,” she said putting on a thick accent. “I will do both so no chicane dans la cabane. Peace and love, Ottawa.” The self-described folk-trash artist had everyone in Ritual, even the few anglophones, in the palm of her hand. Elle n’avait aucun problème changer entre tunes franco et anglo, keeping it varied and sprinkling in a little bit for everyone. Un exemple parfait était une série de trois chansons de suite “Chanson d’une Rouspéteuse,” ensuite “Motel” and then “Katie Cruel,” without a hitch. She then asked how many francophones were in the crowd and it erupted. Then she asked how many anglophones there were and about six to ten people piped up. “Excellent. I’m not doing the bilingual thing for sweet nothing.”

LeBlanc has a wonderful stage presence, it was real, honest, awkward and funny. It was on full display as she introduced her hit song “Aujourd’hui, ma vie c’est d’la marde.” “Je vous invite de chanter avec moi, une chanson d’amour et de finesse. For da English, this song is today, my life is shit.” She apologized for the literal translation, but added “mais une traduction c’est une traduction.” One of the highlights of the show was when the band played the song that kickstarted her English album “You Look Like Trouble (But I Guess I Do Too).” The song captures Lisa LeBlanc perfectly, humourous lyrics, solo banjo intro into a rocking foot-stomping folk song. But what made it so spéciale was when it flowed directly into Motorhead’s “Ace of Spades” and induced a mini mosh pit at the front of the stage. J’ai jamais vu quelqu’un jouer un banjo comme ça de ma vie! Après ça, LeBlanc a dit en souriant “Bein, ça c’est faite! Merci tout le monde c’est amazing, mes oreilles sont bouchées vous criez tellement. Je croix que c’est la première fois ça m’arrive.”

The show also featured the lovely Lisa LeBlanc and her band debuting a couple of new songs. The first was a rocking song in French with a chorus which went “God knows qui f’ra pas beau,” which I can only assume will be the title. It took until the encore to hear the other new track. They closed with “Ciboire” which she introduced by essentially saying that they are working on new music and you will see slight evolution because, well new album but same assholes in her life influencing her music. “Un autre album, un autre trou de cul.” Lisa LeBlanc, tu are toute une Canadian gem, j’ai hate to see you encore April 1st.

The Steamers power-folking it at Ritaul Nightclub in Ottawa.
The Steamers power-folking it at Ritual Nightclub in Ottawa.

Before Lisa LeBlanc stole all our hearts, The Steamers made Ottawa real proud. Opening with their slow builder “Blue Skies,” they were able to capture the crowd and get people involved and clapping right away. The six-piece power-folk band from Ottawa dazzled many new faces and certainly made some new fans on this night. And how can you blame the crowd? When you have a bilingual band which features vocals from all six members over upbeat very tight rocking folk. The Steamers also flowed seamlessly between English and French songs, from the very powerful and emotional song “Mike” to “Passer un nuite” and then back into the excellent wrap your arms around your friends by the campfire sing along song “Head North.”

The band is currently recording and teased us all by saying “this next song, might potentially be our first single,” and then played “Years.” I don’t know about everyone else, but I think that would make for a great choice as single number one. As their time was running out, lead singer and guitarist Quin Gibson, the member of the band who speaks the least French said with a grin, “We have two songs left and they are in le français, is that how we say it?” Well done Quin, well done. The band capped off the night with “Question” and “Wolfpack Presley” in which they had a packed house wolf howling with them. It is not often you get such great response and crowd participation for an opener. It was amazing and truly warmed my heart. Also, major shout out to Lisa LeBlanc and her band for watching the last few songs of the opening act, considering they were on next. True music fans right there.

The night was not all unicorns, bunny rabbits and bilingualism. Unfortunately, due to the mismanagement of the mandatory coat check at Ritual, it took us over 45 minutes to get in even with tickets. You can’t have mandatory coat check for a sold out show and only have one person working the coat check. That is insane. This situation unfortunately meant that many of us missed out on seeing the very talented Kristine St-Pierre. It also means that Kristine St-Pierre missed out of showcasing those talents to so many who actually tried to get there early. Quite a shame.