Two of the most mind blowing shows of the entire festival took place on the medium-sized Hydro Quebec stage where the evening's fun began with a show from Tami Neilson. Neilson, who has been performing since she was a child touring her native Canada with her family, works in two genres that she fits together seamlessly: Classic country and, what the bulk of her music is today, soul. With a stage outfit that, just for fun, included a crown that she wore for her entire show, Neilson was as visually stunning as she was with her bold and earthy vocal style. With her new album Kingmaker having dropped just the day before this show it was a perfect time to showcase new music including "Ain't My Job," "Careless Woman," the title cut "Kingmaker" and a song about how women are often manipulated by men called "Green Peaches." Many of the songs on Kingmaker are about the raw deal women get from men in many aspects of life and business and Neilson's between-song patter also often hit on this subject. One of the songs on Kingmaker is "Beyond the Sun" which is a duet with the legendary Willie Nelson. One of the few songs of the evening that Neilson performed in a pure country style, Willie's part was sung by Jay Neilson, Tami's guitarist and brother. With drummer Mark Mariash rounding out the trio, Neilson's voice soared to the heavens and aimed straight for the soul.
Neilson set the bar high for those who would follow but Canadian band The Soul Motivators totally lived up to their name with a very soulful set that was heavy on the funk.
The funk grooved on opening song "Tell Me," percolated on finance-themed funk with "All the Way to the Bank" and veered into a Parliament/Funkadelic jam with "Until the Sun Goes Down." The band has an amazing vocalist in Shahi Teruko who really belted out the lyrics while also displaying a phenomenal stage presence as she danced, wiggled and performed all the moves expected from a front person.
The Soul Motivators are a big band; besides Teruko the group consists of bass, drums and keys players, a guitarist, an additional percussionist and a three piece horn section consisting of sax, trumpet and trombone. Other songs in their set included the James Brown-inspired "Mindblastin'," the slow and bluesy "Still Waiting" and a brand new soulful pop cut called "It is What it Is" which is about taking life as it comes.
The action moved to the big Bell Stage late in the evening where a capacity crowd witnessed a hard core set from Alexisonfire who rattled and rumbled through a set of favorites including "Accidents," "Committed to the Con," "Familiar Drugs" and "Young Cardinals."
After more than 10-years off the road, fans all over and at FEQ were frothing at the mouth to see Rage Against the Machine. The beloved protest rockers were in top form even though lead singer Zach de la Rocha had to spend the show seated due to an injury incurred at a previous show.
The "rage" manifested not only in song lyrics but also as the written word projected onto the screen behind the band. With Tom Morello doing things like playing guitar with his teeth there was no shortage of stage presence while de la Rocha was stationary. The set was filled with ferocious favorites like "Calm Like a Bomb," "Bullet in the Head," "Guerilla Radio," "War Within a Breath," "Freedom" and "Killing in the Name." A decade is a long time but Rage Against the Machine showed fans that the wait was well worth it.
The next edition of the Festival d'ete de Quebec will take place July 6-16, 2023. Details will be available here.
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