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Jose Gonzalez w/ Cass McCombs - Le National - Dec. 8

Posted by Sisi / December 9, 2007

It's hard to resist the urge to say "Another one?" when presented with the prospect of a sensitive singer-songwriter type who plays guitar. From Montreal's very own Craig Cardiff (read Jeremy's review here) to Sufjan Stevens, the folk revival in indie music is well-represented.

And yet, Swedish artist José González managed to play a wholly engrossing set at Le National with both humor and humility. Treating the seated crowd to material from his new album In Our Nature (2007), González played the guitar with a stirring touch. He also covered songs like The Knife's Heartbeats, Joy Division's Love Will Tear Us Apart, and Kylie Minogue's Hand on Your Heart.


As a performer, González knows when to peak and how to get there. Notable songs included Cycling Trivialities, which unfolded over the course of five minutes like a flower, and Heartbeats, which was featured in a Bravia ad in 2005. Tapping his feet to the rhythm with every song, González projected an aura of calm and professionalism.

Near the end, he stopped to tell a whimsical anecdote: "This is the second time I come here. The first time, I found a bullet on the street. I put it in my pocket. Then, an evangelical threw a Bible at me [towards his chest]. Lucky I had the bullet in my pocket..."

González was preceded by California native Cass McCombs. I couldn't decide how much of it was his stage persona, but the word that comes to mind when I think of McComb's performance is "droopy": a bit insecure, a bit frail, with a touch too much artifice. However, the man doesn't have a bad voice and has potential to do better.

As for José González, I'll look forward to the next time he comes to Montreal.

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