Coup de cœur francophone | Mission Accomplished for Likouri and Madame Autruche

by Michel Labrecque

Attending a show at Quai Des Brumes, that iconic bar of the Plateau Mont-Royal counter-culture, always brings back a ton of memories. The beers after choir rehearsals, the first shows of the then-unknown Lhasa De Sela. The place is magnificent and full of stories.

On Saturday, November 4, Coup de cœur francophone introduced us to two young singer-songwriters who are musically very different, but who complement each other perfectly.

Likouri is a singer, accordionist and composer at the head of an acoustic sextet. She likes to tell her life stories, rather sad ones, but with a lot of humour. Right from the start, she invites us into her “organized chaos”, talking about escape, whisky and denial of paradise.

While his monologues are presented in Quebecois French, his songs are written in French from France. The music is a mix of valse musette, gypsy and klezmer, with a few jazz touches. Accordion, violin, cello, double bass, clarinet and bandolim. A nice mix, but the acoustics of the bar make it difficult to fully appreciate.

The show includes several songs from Likouri’s only album, Aza, as well as new pieces, two of which are sung in very decent Spanish.

But it’s Likouri’s self-deprecating personality that seems to have won hearts.

At the end of the performance, she donned a keffiyeh, the Palestinian scarf, to express her indignation at the Israeli bombardment of Gaza and the apartheid that has reigned there for decades. It was a heartfelt gesture. Except that she never mentioned the Israeli deaths on October 7. Which left me feeling a little uneasy.

Madame Autruche, aka Mélisande Archambault, took over, with her violin and trio of musicians. Folk, rock and atmospheric music, with very personal lyrics.

I discovered Madame Autruche last summer in a very unlikely place: Ste-Rose du Nord, a small village on the Saguenay Fjord, where she was performing in a tiny bar. I was seduced by the proposition. This woman had built a personal identity.

Later, I learned that Mélisande Archambault had worked with the groups Canaille, Groenland and Les Royals Pickles. And that Madame Autruche had made two albums: Les Pentes Glissantes in 2019 and Réveillez-moi quand il fera beau in 2023.

If there’s one thing Likouri and Madame Autruche have in common, it’s their capacity for self-mockery. Feminine. But with room for jubilation.

Mélisande Archambault is no violin virtuoso, but she knows how to make the most of her instrument. The three accompanying musicians are talented, especially the guitarist, who has put together some very inspired solos. We could have taken more.

The spirit of the Coup de cœur francophone is one of discovery. In this respect, this evening was mission accomplished.

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