I’m lucky to be living in a city that has the biggest jazz festival in the world. That's right, the largest. With around 2 million people attending every summer, the Montreal International Jazz Festival or as we call it "The Jazz Fest" can attract some of the biggest names. Not limited to strictly jazz, it's a Mod's playground. For instance, last year I went to see an amazing free outdoor concert called Rocksteady: The Roots of Reggae with legends like Ken Boothe, Stranger Cole, Hopeton Lewis, Leroy Sibbles and The Tamlins. Toots and the Maytals also played The Jazz Fest last year. So I was very excited to learn that Eric Burdon and The Animals were joining the already impressive list of artists to be playing at The Jazz Fest this year.
I don't usually have any expectations when I go see a group I have never seen before. For some reason, this time, I had this antiquated image of a bunch of lads dressed up in nice suits, slim ties and mop tops rocking a frenzied audience. In other words, I was picturing the guys on my Animals LP. Well, maybe that is a bit far fetched but I was at least expecting to be leaning against the stage, rocking the night away.
Check out this video and the flawed image I had in my head of their upcoming performance.
The Animals - Please Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood
This romanticized picture was far from what actually happened. Since it was a general admission concert, I decided to arrive well in advance. I didn't mind arriving an hour and a half before, to make sure that I was up front. I wanted a few nice shots of the group for this post. A line had already formed around the corner of the Metropolis. "This must be a good sign of things to come", I thought to myself.
When we finally entered the venue, I was surprised to see tables all over the dance floor. What? Did I just enter a cabaret? Luckily, I was sitting in the second row. With half an hour to waste before the start of the show, I had time to look around. I soon realized that I was one of the youngest people there. I was one of the rare fans without grey hair. Come to think about it, it makes sense. It is a group from the sixties...
But for such an influential group, I anticipated a more feverish, intense and energized atmosphere. One scene I didn't picture in my mind was a couple sitting at a table beside me reading a novel while sipping a glass of wine. Am I about to see Eric Burdon walk on stage? Am I in the right place? This is surreal, but not necessarily in a good way.
Once the group entered the stage, things started picking up a bit. Ironically they started the show with When I was young. I was relieved to see that Eric Burdon's voice was in full force. To add to the already particular mood, this annoying, overzealous security guard kept people from taking any type of photo. Approaching the stage was simply out of the question. I had just reached in my girlfriend's purse to take out my camera that the security guy was already waving his finger. This can't be how it was back in the sixties. I did manage to snap a picture while he wasn't looking.
At least the group didn't disappoint. They played all of their hits: Please Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood, House of the Rising Sun, Don't Bring Me Down, It's My Life and many more. One of my all time favorites has to be John Lee Hooker's Boom Boom. They performed the classic superbly. Burdon should get praise for his warm and bluesy voice. All in all, I'm glad to have seen them. They will keep being legends in my mind.