Daniel Bélanger: Live in Toronto

Daniel Bélanger

Prior to his outstanding performance at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa that we attended back in April, news reached us that JUNO-Award nominee and acclaimed Montréal folk-pop rocker Daniel Bélanger was adding a Toronto concert to his tour schedule later in the year. Naturally we jumped on those tickets, and after enjoying his Ottawa show from our seats eleven rows or so back from the stage, we arrived extra-early at the beautifully renovated Paradise Theatre for this general admission event and snagged a pair of great front row seats.

Daniel Bélanger

Following an excellent 35-minute opening set from the recently formed electronic-pop duo Beau Nectar, Daniel received a rousing reception from the sold-out theatre once the lights dimmed and “Apertura” blasted from the PA system. Joined once more by his strong supporting cast of Guillaume Doiron (guitar), Jérôme Beaulieu (keyboards), Philippe Brault (bass), and José Major (drums), while the set list was pretty much a carbon copy of what we heard in Ottawa, this smaller room and unobstructed views of the on-stage action made for a completely different experience. Much more intimate in nature, while the limited stage space meant no room for the big screens and generated light effects, Daniel thrived in this setting, engaging eagerly with the audience, cracking jokes, making observations, and demonstrating his phenomenal musical skills.

With an emphasis on his latest “Mercure en mai” release from twelve months ago, Daniel launched immediately into “Soleil levant,” mixing in other new cuts such as “Il faut s´accorder” and “Dormir dans l´auto” at various intervals. And with no empty seats in the house (and some ‘standing room only’ tickets sold last minute), the audience reveled in the many well known hits (including “Sortez-moi de moi,” “Dans un spoutnik,” and “Intouchable et immortel”) that Daniel and his band played flawlessly all evening.

Daniel Bélanger

In our recap of the Ottawa show, I referenced being surprised by the inclusion of “Le triomphe d´une perruche,” the haunting almost-spaghetti-western instrumental taken from Daniel’s 2020 “Travelling” album – and definitely welcomed the opportunity to witness it once again from a much better position. Sure, the horns to open were not ‘live,’ but the instrumentation from the band and the whistles and vocal effects certainly were. The fact that those on stage could hold the full attention of the room with a 3:45 minute atmospheric and cinematic presence is itself a testament to both the talents of, and the respect given, to this artist. An instrumental piece would rarely be considered for my own personal year-end list of memorable concert moments, but this particular tune is a lock for those honors.

Daniel Bélanger

After spending time conversing and jesting with the room once more, Daniel and co. would head into the final stretch, digging deep into their catalogue to share “Tu peux partir,” before adding one final offering from the latest album (“Au vent des idées”), and closing with a powerful combination of popular hits “Les deux printemps” and “Fous n´importe où.”  Appreciative of the standing ovation that followed, the band took their bows and made their exit – enticed back out, naturally, for one encore number; their grand finale, “Rêver mieux.”  Such a timeless Quebecois anthem – this one is always a pleasure to witness live, with every minor moment and detail having such an impact – the perfect arrival of José’s percussion (brings on goosebumps every time), the emotional tone delivered through the instrumentation, and the removal of the guitar and bass as the audience take on the final choral duties to bring this song (and evening) to a close. Another outstanding show from the Canadian treasure that is Daniel Bélanger – how soon can we do this again???

Set List:

  1. Soleil levant
  2. Chante encore
  3. Il faut s´accorder
  4. Sortez-moi de moi
  5. Il y a tant à faire
  6. Imparfait
  7. Te quitter
  8. Intouchable et immortel
  9. Dans un spoutnik
  10. Respirer dans l´eau
  11. Les temps fous
  12. Dormir dans l´auto
  13. Le triomphe d´une perruche
  14. Tu peux partir
  15. Au vent des idées
  16. Les deux printemps
  17. Fous n´importe où


  1. Rêver mieux

The British guy that crossed the ocean and crash landed in central Pennsylvania (to quote Greg Keelor, “And I wonder what am I doing here?”). As the youngest of four siblings, exposure to music from a very early age nurtured my passion and appreciation for many musical genres. Continuing to discover some amazingly diverse and talented musicians based in Canada, I gravitate to live music experiences and remain devoted to spreading the word about such a vibrant music scene.

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