Stroma, alive and undefeated |  Pres

During his visits in 2014 and 2015, Strome literally blew the roof off the Bell Center. So after a long hiatus, he made his long-awaited return on Friday to perform the first of a series of four shows in Montreal since the release of a new album last spring. And the planet’s most famous Belgian singer has lived up to his reputation as a stage beast, even if he sounds a little smarmy, but his new repertoire doesn’t tip the balance between party and clarity.

Hot on the heels of flamboyant South African rapper Show Madjosie, an audience of around 14,000 jumped to their feet when Strome took the stage at 9 p.m. It’s clear that years haven’t changed the intensity of the relationship between the singer and the Montreal public, who shouted their love for him throughout the evening.

“What a welcome! Even Strome exclaimed after the third song, Everything is the same. We were in New York at Madison Square Garden and they weren’t as loud as you! »

Photo by Josie Desmarais, The Press

An enthusiastic crowd gathered at the Bell Center

It’s a super-polished show from Strome, who doesn’t spend as much time changing her clothes as before – in fact, she’s in the same outfit, light pants, white shirt and pink necktie -, but she creates a real universe. Every song.

After a short futuristic movie, we see his animated character pick a destination on a map – Montreal! -, Strome started the evening Not defeatedA song of courage and resilience, his and ours.

“I won’t be defeated as long as I’m alive,” he sings there, which sums up the theme of this show, during which, as usual, the clarity of the lyrics or the harshness of the rhythms comes to face with joy. Closer to Africa, the Caribbean or Latin America.

Indeed, only Stroma can make the public sing the short story’s chorus Loneliness “Celibacy torments me with loneliness, married life makes me weary”, sing along The saddest thing in music history. And his new songs etc Sons of Joy He succeeds to a lesser degree in this dichotomy that inhabits all of his music.

A rich environment

But we won’t blame him for long, because he knows how to carry us. In the diptych Bad day/good day For example, very serious but very successful in its decoration, or an incredible double Papawoodi/Your partyIt’s worth the detour on its own.

Photo by Josie Desmarais, The Press

Strome and its musicians

Alone with four musicians behind various lecterns, Strome inhabits the stage like a king, simply drawing out a few dance steps in a rich but sometimes slightly chilly lighting environment that suits the ensemble’s futuristic imagination. Behind him, sometimes brief projections or cartoons support the subject or engage in action.

The home stretch of the show begins with a strong climb GreatIt ignites the powder to the last. smileIn a universe where everything is black and white, Hell – a powerful song about depression and suicidal thoughts, marking his comeback -, This is happiness, Funny part about the father HealthIt comes with its little dance.

Another animated movie beginsThen we dance, he sings surrounded by panels of light floating in the air. It was there, at the end of his greatest victory, that Strome once again succeeded in blowing the roof off the Bell Center — or rather the public, who couldn’t stop clapping and cheering.

Photo by Josie Desmarais, The Press

“Strome lives on stage like a king,” writes our journalist.

“It’s not for nothing that we’re the last record square root Here, at the Bell Center, the singer began and flew away. Either way, you know how to welcome. Need one last one for the road? »

The answer is yes, of course, and he settles in with his musicians for an a cappella version around the microphone. my dear, which he had sung earlier in the evening. In the utter silence that hung on the lips of 14,000 people, there was the whole essence of Stroma, the rhythm of the Congo Ramba, the bitter lyrics, the joy of singing, the unity.

The end was even more abrupt, hoping it wouldn’t be another seven years before the return.

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