Live review: Patrick Watson @ Lincoln Hall


It is rare to find a musician whose stage presence is so powerful that it surpasses any and all studio recordings. Before the set Patrick Watson spoke to fans. Some came from out of state to see him. A mother and her two sons spoke to the energy that captivated the audience at Lincoln Hall Friday night.

“Music is something we share, the boys introduced me to Patrick and I fell in love with his music,” the mother said.

“He played all of my favorites,” said another doting fan; he had flown all the way out from Boston to see him perform. Another pair of Toronto natives followed suit as well, trying to catch him where they could.

It is beyond belief why a musician with this much raw talent has not dropped in the US. It’s puzzling to the point where you start to wonder why our ears weren’t to the ground when Watson set foot to it several years ago.

With his falsetto to bravado vocals, Watson giggled between harmonies. Chuckling in a way that seemed as though he was as amused by his own playing just as the crowd was. The percussion, performed by Robbie Kuster was fantastic, with an array of toys and mallets, bells and whistles. The echoic throttle of the snare and high hat made for light bursts of vigor added to the sweet sounds of a glass marimba. The violinist, Melanie Belair, with her remarkable vocals, sang softly along with Watson.

Watson is an nontraditional concert pianist. Classically trained since the age of seven, he has since then mastered the art of playing complicated arrangements that are both celestial and coherent. Switching from a grand piano to a Melotron the sound varied with each transition.

The true backbone of the band, aside from the centralism surrounding the drummer and his quick little tricks that added idiosyncratic snaps and hisses to the set, was the bassist, Mishka Stein. His spider-down method was unusually impeccable in keeping time. Watson finished with a twenty-minute rendition of “Beijing,” a song that premiered on NPR for the first time back when he released his sophomore album Wooden Arms in 2009.

Most notable throughout the set was the emphatic sing along Watson graciously proposed to the audience with the acclaimed song “Where the Wild Things Are.” Laughs filled the hall as he showered the crowd with compliments, encouraging them to let go of inhibition and just sing.

Halfway through the set Watson brought three chairs to the center of the hall with him in the middle sandwiched between the bassist and the guitarist, they all played a heartbreaking version of “Into Giantsfrom his latest album, Adventures In Your Backyard. Some were truly moved to the point of weeping, goose bumps rose amongst the crowd.

The sense of togetherness, of jovial whimsical bliss made for one of the most memorable shows Lincoln Hall has ever booked. After the set Watson sat and chatted with his fans, taking time to tell stories and asking people about themselves. His down-to-earth ragged charm beguiled everyone, men and women alike.

Don’t forget the name Patrick Watson and rest assured once it becomes engrained in your mind it won’t be an easy feat to forget just how powerful his music is and will be as he travels through the states, bewildering the nation one state at a time.

Photo of Patrick Watson by Rachel Angres. See more photos from Watson’s set over on our Flickr page or Rachel’s tumblr.