La Scena Musicale

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Songs in the Key of Gregory: A Vintage Experience in Montreal

By Naomi Gold
Photos by OSA Images

The Old Port of Montreal is now home to a new theatre, which was built to showcase the musical talents of Gregory Charles.   The Vintage Experience is a bilingual, interactive, multimedia production which actually begins when concertgoers buy their tickets.  A series of questions concerning musical preferences is posed at point of purchase and relayed to Charles, who then tailors his show accordingly.  Audience members also text in their choices during the show and are sometimes introduced; one thrilled texter actually performed onstage!  The results are sometimes hilarious and always entertaining.

Accompanied by an enthusiastic choir, Gregory Charles opened his show with a rousing gospel number on a makeshift stage in the VIP lounge.  The pianist/singer maintained major momo and mojo throughout the three-hour frenzied performance, which included several standing ovations and encores. He performed a truly ear-boggling array of melodies, harmonies, genres and, er, vintages. Sixties ballads, heavy metal, Quebecois pop, British rock, American classic rock, pop, jazz and gospel (to name a few): Charles covered them all. He also put his band through an exhaustive polyphony of 'Fab Four' faves. Notable Beatles highlights were Let it Be and Come Together.  In a piano playoff between Billy Joel &.Elton John, Charles plays a number of their hits, while viewers vote via text. No surprise, that quintessential piano man, Reginald Dwight handily won. In an extended tribute to Michael Jackson, Charles dazzles with his moonwalk manoeuvres and musical versatility.  

In a particularly poignant interlude, Charles pays homage to his mother who is suffering from Alzheimer's disease. As he sings, a series of photos showing his mother caring for her infant son, is projected onscreen. Other photos of Charles as the young musician with his parents, bring a homey, intimate ambience to this concert.  The Vintage Experience  is sung 90% in English, spoken/texted 99% in French and is 100% terrific.  Above all, this 
soirée of über-highenergyGregorian-styled chant, is vintage Charles. 

A hot ticket, the Vintage Experience is playing to near-capacity crowds nightly except Mondays.  It runs until July 14th @TheVintage Theatre, on the water in the Old Port. Tickets can be purchased @The Vintage box office on site or by phone & online: 
514 316-1950 / 1-888-978-6471;   And don't forget to bring your all important smart phones.

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