by Elena Gritzan
As a listener who normally focusses on lyrics, it is interesting to hear an artist perform in a language that you can only marginally understand. It is a testament to Beatrice Martin, who performs classic sounding French pop songs as Cœur de Pirate, that her musicianship and song-writing ability manage to transcend language barriers to express a full spectrum of emotions.
On Thursday evening in Toronto, Martin performed a couple of songs at Sonic Boom records, just her piano and her evocative voice. The vinyl aisles were packed as Martin demonstrated her ability to win people over with her mastery of melody. At just twenty minutes long, the performance was an appetizer leading up to the next night’s show at the Opera House.
After a set from opener Kandle, full of resonant guitar chords and haunting, down-tempo forward motion, Martin and her band commanded the stage at the Queen Street East venue. Beginning with sunny “Versau” and moving through highlights from her two records, Martin shone both as a vocalist and a pianist. The first noticeable thing is that yes, she is definitely pregnant (seven months, actually), but that does nothing to stop her musical energy. It did, though, lead to an endearing moment that seemed like an exit from the stage in preparation for an encore, but was actually just a necessary trip to the washroom. “You didn’t think this was over, did you? I’m peeing for two now!”
Martin expressed her love of playing in Toronto, and was vocally grateful for her audience’s presence, but her thoughts were also with her home of Montreal, dedicating “St. Laurent” to the students involved in the ongoing protests.
The highlight of the show was certainly the last two songs, a presentation of the pieces that catalyzed the highly acclaimed fate of both Cœur de Pirate records. The first was a rendition of “Commes des Enfants” from her first release, in which she left the singing of a chorus to the audience. The entire room lifted up their own version of the song: “Il m’aime encore, et toi tu m’aime un peu plus fort” (and we definitely did love her a little more before the song ended). The final song was “Adieu”, the immensely popular stand-out song from her November release, Blonde. Sonically, it is upbeat and full, something that she was definitely able to translate into a live setting. The lyrical content of the song suggests something a bit darker and deeper, dealing with the frustration and emotional tangles that are inevitable in relationships. To me, the three minute song represents Beatrice Martin’s growth into a highly accomplished artist – she knows how to create an enduring song that strikes a chord with an extensive number of people, and how to make them fall in love with her on stage. The sky’s the limit for Cœur de Pirate.