Lisa LeBlanc: Live In Ottawa

Lisa LeBlanc

With the transition from winter into spring, Team GDW finally embarked on a long-awaited road trip to Ottawa, ON. This vacation was planned back in June 2023 when Rosaireville, NB folk-trash rocker Lisa LeBlanc announced that her “Chiac Disco” tour finale would not only take place at the prestigious National Arts Centre but would be accompanied by a full symphony orchestra. Securing a pair of tickets the moment they became available, we promptly circled this date on our calendar with a bold sharpie as a highly anticipated musical adventure for early 2024.

Held in the Southam Hall – the largest auditorium within the NAC complex, we took pleasure entering the room and locating our seats as the full symphony orchestra warmed up – before noticing the stage set up also accommodated Lisa’s regular touring band – one we had great fortune to see live in Virginia just a few months ago.  As the lights dimmed, the audience welcomed conductor Jean-Michel Malouf to the stage, who took his bow before stepping onto his podium and signaled for the orchestra to commence.

Lisa LeBlanc

As the gorgeous score (arranged by Québécois musician Antoine Gratton) filled the auditorium with symphonic delight, the illumination of the far rear stage entrance shone a spotlight on Lisa LeBlanc. Making her way through the orchestra to the front of the stage, “Kraft Dinner” would be performed solely by Lisa and the classical ensemble surrounding her.

With an extended and amplified orchestral close to “Kraft Dinner,” silhouettes of the band appeared from both side-stage areas, making their way towards Lisa (vocals/guitar/banjo) – before the opening rings of “Dans l’jus” burst into life (complete with an equally blistering light show).  The explosive energy from Lisa’s touring band of Sunny Duval (guitars/vocals), Camille Gélinas (keyboards/vocals), Benoît Morier (bass/vocals), and Maxime Gosselin (drums) had the crowd engaged, and by the time they progressed into the popular hit “Pourquoi faire aujourd’hui,” pretty much all of the seats around us were vacated as the energized crowd rose to their feet.

Lisa LeBlanc

With an emphasis largely on her “Chiac Disco” material, Lisa would take time to discuss this project with the room. “We had this idea of bringing redneck with rhine – dipping it in rhinestone – this is the best metaphor for what I was thinking,” she shared prior to a performance of “Gossip.” Offering gratitude to Antoine Gratton, she would add, “We were dreaming of this show about three years ago when we started to write Chiac Disco, and we were dreaming of ending this whole thing with symphony shows. So, it’s been three years in the making, we’re extremely, extremely happy.”

There was no denying the impact of the symphony orchestra throughout the show – the strings a constant purveyor of heartfelt emotions, while the brass section brought so many moments to life – the replicated whistles and western noir ambience to the instrumental “Highways, Heartaches and Time Well Wasted,” and again (along with the thunderous timpani) to add somber depth to the banjo-fueled  “Gold Diggin’ Hoedown.” It is impossible to ignore the impact that classical music elements bring at any moment, and Gratton’s arrangements suited each of these songs admirably.

Lisa LeBlanc

Closing the show with a lively interpretation of “Veux-tu rentrer dans ma bubble?,” Lisa and her band bid us farewell, exiting the stage as the orchestra filled the musical void, almost drowned out by the applause and cries for more from the packed house that followed. As the band (sans Lisa) gradually returned, bassist Benoît Morier would address the room: “Please welcome back to the stage, the queen of bingo music, Belinda…” Cue the return of Lisa – dressed in the waitress uniform and wig of her alter-ego Belinda (2020 side project) – and no longer in the sequined outfit worn earlier. Following a brief humorous monologue, ‘Belinda’ would perform “It’s Not a Game, It’s a Lifestyle” – the only full English language tune on this night.

Lisa LeBlanc

“Thank you from the bottom of my heart for being here tonight. This has been such a wild ride these last two years, as well as these symphony shows,” Lisa offered. “Thank you so much, this is too much, there are no words that can describe what I am feeling right now. It’s overwhelming.”  And, for their last hurrah, the musical ensemble delivered a rousing performance of “Aujourd’hui, ma vie c’est d’la marde” – the orchestra adding perfect accompaniment during the phases, from graceful, flowing strings to pompous, polka-marching horns.

An excellent 90-minute ‘once in a lifetime’ experience at Ottawa’s National Arts Centre – merci beaucoup to Lisa LeBlanc for this unbelievable extravaganza. Our gut instincts last summer about securing tickets to this show were fully realized, having now experienced first-hand this outstanding show from start to finish. What a fitting finale to the “Chiac Disco” era.

Set List:

  1. Kraft Dinner
  2. Dans l’jus
  3. Pourquoi faire aujourd’hui
  4. J’pas un cowboy
  5. Highways, Heartaches And Time Well Wasted
  6. City Slickers And Country Boys
  7. Gossip
  8. Entre toi pi moi pi la corde de bois
  9. La poudre aux yeux
  10.  Me semble que c’est facile
  11.  You Look Like Trouble (But I Guess I Do Too)
  12.  Gold Diggin’ Hoedown
  13.  Gossip II
  14.  Veux-tu rentrer dans ma bubble?


  1. It’s Not A Game, It’s a Lifestyle
  2. Aujourd’hui, ma vie c’est d’la marde

Photo Credit: Artist Website (Official Tour Poster)

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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