Mount Eerie delivers emotionally impactful concert at St Albans Church

September 21st, 2017 by  |  Published in Concerts

Mount Eerie at St Albans Church. Photo credit: Braeden Halverson

Mount Eerie at St Albans Church. Photo credit: Braeden Halverson

Walking into St. Alban’s Church for the first time, my first thought was that it was much smaller than I had anticipated. As the beauty of Ottawa’s oldest church started to settle in, the second thing I noticed was the music that was playing through a pair of speakers towards the front of the stage: soft, minimal music with quiet, hushed vocals as well as instrumental, ambient music. As the music played on, after every two or three songs that would play, a spoken word piece would grab the attention of the audience, sitting patiently waiting for the main act: poems about time, love, loss and fear. Amanda Lowe, a local singer/songwriter opened the show with some simple, charming and sad folk songs.

With that, Phil Elverum, better known by his stage name Mount Eerie, quietly took the stage with nothing but a nylon string guitar and two microphones. I knew this show was going to be sad, given the content on Phil’s latest album A Crow Looked At Me, released back in March of this year. If you haven’t heard the album, it is essentially a reflection on the death of Phil’s wife Genevieve, who passed away in July of last year.

Hearing Phil sing and play the songs off of Crow live revealed just how raw and sparse the recordings on the album were. With songs like “Real Death”, it was almost as if we were hearing the album cut. However, that doesn’t mean this or other songs, like a personal favourite of mine “Ravens”, didn’t take on a new life, because with songs this detailed and descriptive, seeing Phil actually mouth these words was heartbreaking and evocative.

The most entrancing and intriguing moments came in the latter half, where essentially Phil played a number of unreleased tracks, each of which were just as detailed and personal as the songs on Crow. The songs were long and pretty much unedited in terms of the lyrics, where they felt more like readings from a very personal journal rather than actual song lyrics.

Honestly, coming away from an experience like this concert, it’s difficult to say that I received enjoyment out of it. What I can say is that seeing Phil live was one of the most unique, serene and emotionally impactful concert experiences I have had, and probably will ever have.

Check out his latest album from 2017, but understand it’s not for casual listening. These songs are painfully sad and personal, but ultimately it is rewarding and will be one of the most rare and haunting albums you have probably every heard.

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