In Lac-Mégantic, the Christmas spirit was everywhere in the air, in the snowy streets, like around the fire near the Chapelle du Rang 1. But it was inside the small and welcoming building, in company of Étienne Coppée and his friends, that we felt the comforting sweetness of the holiday season at its strongest.

It was Étienne Coppée’s Little Christmas Show on Thursday at the Chapel. He will bring this show to Montreal this week, but he designed it here, in Lac-Mégantic. Surrounded by his friends, very talented musicians, the singer-songwriter put on a concert he called Petit show and which was exactly that: a moment bringing together only a few dozen people in the audience, in a cramped but charming place, on a stage almost at ground level where the musicians wander around, always being careful not to tip over one of the many instruments.

Étienne Coppée clarified at the start of the performance how he saw this Christmas show, which he presented three evenings in a row at the invitation of the Lavallée family, owners of the Chapel: it’s like a family reunion and the people on stage are the “cousins ​​who can sing.” In this spirit, we witnessed a moment which was musically exhilarating and moving, but which also sometimes had this nicely disordered side. This is what he wanted to create. Something that is not cluttered with frills, to leave plenty of room for melodies.

With Étienne Coppée on stage, Flavie Melançon (on vocals, an essential contribution to the performance), Raphaël Pépin-Tanguay, Bruno St-Laurent (on multiple instruments), the author Elkahna Talbi and the singer-songwriter Marie- Peter Arthur. Because it was a carte blanche show, Étienne Coppée decided not just to present Christmas songs, but to go there as one goes when one comes together in a musical family and sing the piece that comes to mind. With these “non-repertory songs”, he and his companions managed to give a pleasant rhythm to the concert.

Elkahna Talbi then took center stage to declaim a spoken word text, which she did several more times afterwards, interspersing the musical moments, often accompanied by the piano of Étienne Coppée in the background. Each time, the audience seemed charmed by the words of Talbi, who spoke of Christmas, love, relationships that last and those that sometimes last less.

Étienne Coppée had not given a concert for about a year. He had taken a break “which [he] needed,” he told us. This return to the stage, in this context, seemed ideal for getting back into the swing of things. He admitted to feeling a certain amount of stress, which we can imagine, but which never really appeared. He was surrounded by friends, under the benevolent gaze of an audience who had come to have a sweet time. And the other musicians participated magnificently in this show which bore the name of Étienne Coppée large on the poster, but which was a collective effort where everyone had their turn at the front of the stage or nicely linked their voice to that of the others. The union of all the talents facing us brought magic to the air.

White Christmas, Sleigh Ride, Three Angels, Merry Christmas, December 23, All I Want for Christmas and many others: the choice of songs was wise, the performance was enchanting. We also left room for It’s going to change the world, All Right (by Marie-Pierre Arthur), Tomorrow it’ll be nice.

Between the songs, Étienne Coppée was friendly and endearing. The atmosphere, in the room and on stage, was that of communion, peaceful, touching. A little stop in time where all that mattered was the music, the present moment. We laughed, we sang, we cried too, in the Chapel of Row 1. It was beautiful.