best concerts biggest music disappointments Montreal

The best Montreal concerts and biggest music disappointments of 2022

Kendrick Lamar collabs and no-shows, one last Low show before the death of the band’s shining light, big moments at Parc Jean-Drapeau and the sad Win Butler episode were some the things that marked our music writers last year.

Along with their lists of the best albums of 2022, six Cult MTL music critics also shared their favourite Montreal concerts of the year and their biggest music disappointments.

Stephan Boissonneault

Best Concert

Spiritualized at Théâtre Corona, Sept. 19

I saw so many concerts in 2022, probably more than any year I’ve been alive, but the one I still have flashbacks from is Spiritualized. The setlist was perfect, drawing from the fantastic new album Everything Was Beautiful as well as Jason Pierce & co.’s older material like Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space. The visuals were also mind-expanding and put me in a welcome trance. If you don’t know the name Spiritualized — and maybe you don’t as the venue wasn’t even at full capacity — do yourself a favour and check it out. It’s psychedelic music that makes you question anything and everything, and it’s even better live. I’m glad I saw Pierce and his band live because you really never know when a guy like him, leading a life like his, will stop making music altogether. He’s one of the best in his genre, even if it’s for a niche audience. 

Biggest Disappointment

Kendrick Lamar collaborating with Kodak Black on Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers just sours part of the album for me.

Jacob Carey

Biggest Disappointment

The Weeknd skipping Montreal on tour

Best Concert

Roger Waters’ “This Is Not a Drill” tour was one of the most impressive concerts that I’ve had the pleasure of attending in recent years. It was not necessarily Waters’ captivating stage presence or his repertoire of endless classics that kept the audience enthralled for a near three-hour set, but the sheer production value alone that made it so spectacular. 

In July, the Pink Floyd alumnus brought his 360-degree set to the Bell Centre, giving viewers in any seat a great view of the show. Viewed from above, the set would resemble an X made up of floating displays the size of movie theatre screens. For every tune, Waters had different visuals to accompany them. Some were full-on videos that could have been short films in themselves, others contained incredible high-end animation (the rich pig dancing along to “Money” was a favourite), while many others featured just trigger words or phrases meant to thought-provoke the audience. Whether or not you agree with Waters’ politics is another story altogether, but there is no denying the amount of effort that has been put into creating an incredibly memorable spectacle for one of the few remaining living legends of the ’70s rock ’n’ roll era.

Johnson Cummins

Best Concert

Low at Théâtre Fairmount, April 2

Biggest Disappointment

On Nov. 5, one of the greatest singers and songwriters of all time, Mimi Parker, lost her battle with ovarian cancer. Parker is best known for sharing the songwriting and singing duties with her husband Alan Sparhawk in the “slo core” band Low. 

Gently creeping out of the sleepy burg of Duluth, Minnesota in the ’90s, Low flew in the face of the fuzz-driven decibel squelch of the Lollapalosers by playing at a snail’s pace while delivering hushed anthems of the heart. While Parker possessed one of the sweetest voices ever to tickle the ear, she also cast out some lyrical pearls that would reduce even the most callous listeners to a puddle. It was when she perfectly meshed her sweet and oozing-honey voice with Sparhawk’s that things really soared. Watching the wife and husband duo in full-flight harmony is one of the most electrifying things I have ever witnessed. Despite seeing them numerous times, it never failed to get me. 

It might be selfish to lament that I will never spend an afternoon discovering a new Low record or feeling the emotional heft of seeing Parker, with brushes in hand, gently croon over Sparhawk’s strum, but this one really hurts. 

Brandon Kaufman

Best concert

Omar S at Piknic Électronik (Aug. 28)

Biggest disappointment

Kendrick Lamar’s Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers — though I hope (and suspect) the years will age this take poorly. As it stands, the record seems designed for this explicit purpose: a cobbling together of so many disparate ideas and sounds in the hope that they will sort themselves out. (The Polaroid approach: give it a second, a unified image is just around the corner.) Kendrick’s discography has shown how overrated an idea “consistency” is; its generative use of aesthetic dissonance is part of what makes DAMN., for example, so great. Nothing here seems to amount to much. Kendrick’s last album on TDE, Mr. Morale introduces sounds and features and samples that obscure more than they reveal — obscures not by posing questions but by providing every possible formulation of an answer.

Darcy MacDonald

Biggest Disappointment

Kendrick Lamar’s The Big Steppers world tour bypassed Montreal but two-stepped into TO for a pair of shows in August. But hey — at least everyone still loves Arcade Fire! 

Best Concert

Having to pick the single best performance of 2022, as we welcomed a return to full-capacity gatherings and restriction-free concerts, seems almost unfair. So for this year, my choice is democratic: the performance I enjoyed the most at a live music event this year was yours, show-goer. 

You bought tickets at exorbitant prices despite inflation, understanding full well that postponements were possible, cancellations would happen and festival headliners could (and would) be replaced. You risked joining massive, non-distanced crowds, masked or unmasked, sometimes suffering the consequences. When you had to stay home, you stayed home, braving disappointment because that’s just how it goes. You danced under infernal heat at ÎLESONIQ. You pretended to be just a little more excited about Tik Tok stars at Osheaga than you needed to. You partied as hard and as often as you could at Jazz Fest and lost your mind with the Roots during what was possibly the best free outdoor show in the festival’s history. You celebrated the human experience regardless of hardships and uncertainties every person endures. You brought smiles, friendships, laughter and love to put on the greatest spectacle anyone could ask for. Bravo.

Dave MacIntyre

Best Concert

Phoebe Bridgers at Parc Jean-Drapeau, June 8

Biggest Disappointment

I don’t know how any musical disappointment can possibly top the sexual misconduct allegations against Arcade Fire’s Win Butler. As a longtime massive fan of his and of the band, the news hit me like a bomb, and I’m still struggling to collect my thoughts about it months later. Between this and the six counts of sexual assault charged against Rex Orange County, plus the anti-Semitic and/or right-wing dumbfuckery of both Kanye West and M.I.A (both of whom took photos alongside Candace Owens this year), 2022 really was a massive bummer as far as being disappointed by artists I once adored.

This article was originally published in the December 2022 issue of Cult MTL.

For more music coverage, please visit the Music section.