Kevin Barnes is so much more than a frontman, he’s the mastermind behind of Montreal’s 12 albums, the centre around which every aspect of the band orbits. He has the seductive camp and gravitas of an excellent Hollywood villain: Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg’s sexy musical cousin. He arrives on stage dressed in white, with a green and gold embroidered cape. Later he will discard these in a sexually-charged performance of ‘Plastis Wafers’ and writhe about on stage; a lap dance for every member of the audience. He disappears for a few minutes for a thrilling instrumental from the rest of the band, returning in floral leggings and a blouse. ‘I thought I’d slip into something more comfortable’ he says, deadpan.
The most recent tour is off the back of their 2013 album, Lousy with Sylvianbriar, but the show also returns to the best songs from Skeletal Lamping and Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer? It’s a thrilling display to say the least. The encore sees the band perform an extended version of ‘The Past is a Grotesque Animal’, a song which already stands at 11.54. The prog rock epic is a brave choice to say the least, but one expects nothing less from a band which consistently and effortless shatters assumptions and expectations. As he leaves the stage Barnes raises his guitar high above his head, poised to bring it crashing down. But he stops, flashing the crowd a wry smile as if to say “gotcha”. He certainly does.
photo: Pooneh Ghana