Singer-songwriter Dominique Fils-Aimé and the Orchester symphonique de Montréal (OSM), conducted by Dina Gilbert, offered a show on Tuesday where strength and delicacy were able to coexist in exceptional harmony. Report of a divine evening at the Maison symphonique.
The voices of the choristers rise first within the confines of the Maison symphonique. The musicians of the Orchester symphonique de Montréal then join their instruments to the harmonies. On the stage then appears Dominique Fils-Aimé, majestic and breathtaking. Eyes closed, the singer anchors herself in the moment, takes deep breaths, soaks up the music that envelops her. On the public side, time freezes, while we wait impatiently for the first sounds of his voice to resonate.
Dominique Fils-Aimé embarks on the interpretation of Nameless, title track of the first of her trilogy of albums, which she drew for this concert. Its soft intonation intertwines with the choirs and the strings of the orchestra. We therefore know that the presence of the singer on this stage, surrounded by the OSM, accompanied by the choristers of the show Y’a du monde à mass, is a genius idea.
The Montreal orchestra regularly joins forces with popular artists for unique concerts where classical music takes on pop airs, accompanies and completes compositions that had little orchestral elements at first sight. This time, Dominique Fils-Aimé’s jazz, soul and pop received the OSM treatment, thanks to the arrangements of the talented Blair Thompson. The orchestra became a little more jazzy, much more pop, while the singer’s soft pieces tended without difficulty towards the classical.
When the crowd applauds her, she surrounds herself with her own arms, receives the cheers like an embrace, visibly moved.
It’s a great moment, of course, for the 2019 Polaris Prize finalist, Felix and Juno award winner. His three albums, a trilogy, are superb works that respond to and exist for each other. In this show, she explains on the microphone, there will not be much room for applause, because we will be presented with the trilogy as it was imagined, organically, the songs connected to each other. She presents them in the order in which she released them, one album after another.
Nameless, therefore, begins this show of about an hour and a half. Already on its version on disc, the piece features strings, like several other pieces by Dominique Fils-Aimé. This time, we add even more relief with the other instruments, as will be done throughout the show. The brass and the strings, the percussions and the winds have each time been superbly married to the voice of Dominique Fils-Aimé.
But an exceptional job has clearly been done to maintain a nice balance between the enhancement of the magnificent voice of Dominique Fils-Aimé and that of the instrumental richness provided by the orchestra.
Other artists, who are not on stage, but rather perched on an adjacent balcony, worked very hard: the choristers of Y’a du monde à messe are an essential addition to this performance. The harmonies on Dominique Fils-Aimé’s songs, already on record, are a fundamental element. In addition to accompanying and enhancing the vocal performance of the singer, the choirs allowed during the concert, like one more instrument added to the orchestra, to reshape the pieces for more impact. Sarah Bourdon, Kim Richardson, Ariane Brunet, Karine Pion, Coral Egan, Heidi Jutras, Elie Haroun, Franck Julien, JP Loignon and Dorian Sherwood are essential at all times.
Dominique Fils-Aimé, in addition to accompanying himself with a choir, had the brilliant idea of inviting Élisapie for this show. At the start of the concert, the latter appeared on stage to perform two pieces of her own, Wolves and Arnaq. Dominique Fils-Aimé then simply puts herself aside, letting her talented friend shine, overwhelmingly sweet.
In the middle of the show, dancer and choreographer Axelle Munezero joins the performance. His dance movements, which we are not at all used to seeing on the stage of the Maison symphonique, echo the music and the lyrics. If its presence is surprising to some, it is also quite relevant, original and, above all, poignant.
The various tracks from the albums Nameless, Stay Tuned! and Three Little Words are both linked and varied, giving way to moments of great sweetness, others more rhythmic (While We Wait, Mind Made Up, for example), some where the singer’s voice dominates, others where the orchestra is the only one to enchant us. Always, within the confines of the concert hall, power and delicacy coexist, alternate or marry. This is the Dominique Fils-Aimé touch, which we discover like never before.
To conclude, after a reminder worthy of the show we have just seen, the artist offers us a “last surprise”. In a world premiere, orchestral version, she delivers the title track of her upcoming album, the one that will follow the famous trilogy that launched it. With Our Roots Run Deep, the singer, the OSM and the choristers bewitch us one last time, leaving a fabulous omen for what is yet to come for Dominique Fils-Aimé.