Madison Violet: Live in Toronto

Madison Violet

Since catching a live set by Madison Violet last summer at the Home County Music and Art Festival in London, ON, we knew that a future full show by this duo was an absolute must for us.  Fast forward to just a few months ago, and the duo of Brenley MacEachern and Lisa MacIsaac finally released a pretty hectic touring schedule for the spring.  Scouring the dates for shows that fell on a weekend in ON, we saw a potential Saturday night date in Toronto that was still open on our calendar.  Finding out shortly afterward that another one of our favorites, Abigail Lapell, would be the opening act, tickets were quickly secured for this event.

Arriving at the venue and securing our seats, we enjoyed a seven track opening set from Toronto singer-songwriter Abigail Lapell.  Being one of the first artists whom we interviewed on this blog, Team GDW are always happy to hear and support Abigail’s music, and take joy in seeing the accolades that continue to be bestowed upon her.  Taking the stage with her well travelled (and well played) Gibson hollow-body guitar, Abigail would focus on material from her most recent “Hide Nor Hair” album, opening with “Diamond Girl,” and including both “Jordan” and her ode to Winnipeg, “Murder City.”  She would also perform both “Sally” (a song about good advice that was never taken) and the title track from her debut “Great Survivor” album.  And as an extra bonus for this audience, Abigail would chat about both her recent time spent writing in Banff, and having material for her next album that should be released early next year (co-produced with Chris Stringer).  She would then go on to perform a brand new, unreleased track from that future album, “Shape Of A Mountain.”  With a recently acquired camper van in her arsenal, Abigail is ready to hit the roads to share her wonderful music.

Abigail Lapell Set List:

  1. Diamond Girl
  2. Night Bird And Morning Bird
  3. Sally
  4. Murder City
  5. Shape Of A Mountain ***New***
  6. Great Survivor
  7. Jordan


After a very brief intermission, Madison Violet (accompanied by multi-instrumentalist Jakub Zapotoczny) were welcomed to the stage, ready to perform two sets of music from across their extensive back catalog of material.  With mention of a new album in the pipeline, a handful of currently unreleased tracks would be added into the mix too, leaving us eager to hear more from this upcoming release.  Having recorded and toured for many years now, the natural chemistry and timing between Brenley and Lisa continues to shine  Indeed, just two tracks in to the first set, Brenley would announce that they have to pause briefly, glancing at her guitar cable and stating, “My OCD is kicking in…there’s a knot in my guitar cord.”  Unplugging and fixing the knot, she would add, “We are all Libra’s up here, we need balance.”  Plugged back in once more, the trio would go on to perform the first all new song of the evening, much to the delight of the room.

After performing their popular hit “Crying,” Lisa would share the tale of a recent tour in Scotland, and being asked to perform a song for a small group of school children.  “Of course, they asked for the most inappropriate song for us to sing,” joked Lisa, when informed that they wanted to hear “Lauralee.”  Continuing the tale, Lisa added that the song was inspired by a “feisty redhead” that they used to know, and given the nature of the song, decided that for the sake of the children, they could change the word “lover” to “brother,”  Pause for laughter, especially as Brenley sided with the audience and stated, “I let her run with it…but don’t you know how incestuous that sounds?”  Madison Violet would go on to perform “Lauralee,” complete with the odd insertion of “brother” thrown in for good measure by Lisa.

Several other hits would follow throughout both sets, along with recent tracks from their “The Knight Sessions” album (“Ohio,” “ We Are Famous” and “Trouble”).  From this album, Brenley would precede “These Ships” with a tale of almost purchasing a house boat on the Toronto islands; with things going smoothly until an ill-timed septic tank explosion and the refusal of their friend to dupe them into buying it.  Lisa would also talk about tales from the road, and a night spent just outside Washington, DC, that involved a run down hotel, some prostitutes, a pimp, and a knife!  “It’s gonna be in our book,” joked Lisa, “You’ll have to buy the book to find out what happened.”  The second set would be closed with the crowd favorite “Come As You Are,” which Lisa thanked the CBC for playing and sharing their music, and doing everything to help roots-folk artists gain recognition and airplay across Canada.

The packed room at Robinson Hall needed little encouragement to stand and applaud until Madison Violet returned for an encore performance.  Picking up their instruments for one last time, Brenley asked the room if there were any songs they wanted to hear.  Receiving responses for both “Small Of My Heart” and “Haight Ashbury,” such wishes would be granted.  Lisa remarked that “Haight Ashbury” was “the first song we wrote back in 1937 or something…..we have really good skin cream products.”  After performing and wrapping up this song, all three musicians unplugged their instruments, and stood front and center of the stage to knock out an amazing un-mic’d rendition of “Small Of My Heart.”  Lisa would be given an amazing solo to demonstrate her mandolin skills, and upon receiving her well-deserved applause post-solo, Brenley smiled and stated that the audience should really see what she can do on a clarinet.  Jokes and banter aside, Madison Violet ended the show in style, before bidding us goodnight and exiting the stage.  This show was definitely worth the drive to Toronto for just one evening of music, and we really hope to catch up with all of these artists again when the next opportunity should arise.

Madison Violet Set List:

  1. Tell Me When You Get Your Heart Working
  2. Ohio
  3. Does Anyone Know Real Love ***New***
  4. Crying
  5. Lauralee
  6. Never Saw The Ending
  7. We Are Famous
  8. Daddy Lessons (Beyonce cover)
  9. Sign Of The Sun ***New***
  10. Trouble
  11. The Heat
  12. The Ransom
  13. These Ships
  14. Nobody ***New***
  15. Time To Right The Wrong ***New***
  16. Come As You Are


  1. Haight Ashbury
  2. Small Of My Heart (unplugged)

~ M

Visit Abigail Lapell’s website.

Listen to “Hide nor Hair” (her most recent album) on Spotify.

Visit Madison Violet’s website.

Listen to “The Knight Sessions” on Spotify.

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