If I was to sum up HONNE’s Montreal Sala Rossa show, ‘intimate’ would be the perfect word – in every sense of its meaning. There are the things you might expect from a HONNE concert – romantic lyrics, synths that make you want to move your body, vocals that give you periodic shivers – but the intimacy wasn’t something you could just hear, it was something you could feel. If you’ve ever frequented Sala Rossa, you know about their quaint upstairs space, adorned with chandeliers and a small bar in the back serving up cold local and imported brews; it sort of feels like home and makes you want to open your own restaurant-venue-bar location so you can experience it every day. No matter where you stand in the room, you’re still close enough to the stage to see every facial expression and soft bead of sweat on the artist’s faces. And, if you couldn’t see their sweat, well, you could certainly feel the sweat from that couple next to you or the guy you just met who you slowly sway with for a couple songs. It’s the kind of heated intimacy and sweatiness you might expect from a passionate soirée, which makes sense considering the band defines their own sound as “baby-making music.” Yeah, it was intimate. Warm fuzzies, sticky bodies, sexy and soulful lyrics, smiling fans singing along and amazing music. HONNE, which translates to “true feelings” in Japanese, was certainly an intimate show full of feelings. But, in case you wanted more than just the intimacy, here it is:
HONNE’s Andy Clutterbuck and James Hatcher, were joined on stage by a bass player, backup singer, and drummer. It added a fullness to their live sound, stage presence and mimicked their recorded debut album. They opened with “Warm on a cold Night” to which the crowd was instantly singing, swapping and kissing. The show continued in this manner, with the band continuously thanking the audience, periodically in French (as bands in Montreal always seem to do). During “The Night” the audience was encouraged to sing in place of Andy’s vocals. You could tell just how humbled the band was at the response they received. Before heading off stage after about 50 minutes, they sang their current biggest hit and collaboration with Izzi Bizu (backup singer, Naomi, singing her part), “Gone are the Days.”
After a minute or so of enthusiastic cheering and stomping, Andy and James came back on stage thanking the audience and laughing about upsetting the restaurant-goers downstairs with the stomping. “We can’t do one more” James says, “so we’ll do 3 more.” With just the 2 Englishmen on stage, they played a song which they share was released on Valentine’s day – for its romance and for the ladies. Everyone in the crowd is clutching onto one another at this point, swaying back and forth. It’s nice and it feels like you’re hanign with old friends instead of a bunch of random, sweaty strangers. Before moving into their fourth and final encore song, they chat with the audience about where they should grab Poutine after the show; the classic La Banquise is a crowd-favorite and is then the “after party” location. They close the show with “All in the Value” before sending more love, thanks and desire “to do that again sometime” to the audience.
The up-and-coming band played a beautiful, feeling-evoking show in Montreal. While there is no set date for their next show in town, we’re certain we’ll be there. Intimate and all, once again.
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