The BOX live – Saturday, March 6th 2021
By Colin Bell
The setting was a converted warehouse located in the Montreal suburb of Chambly, a top-of-the-line sound and light system was set up amidst a landscape of empty crates and boxes by show producers Live Dans Ton Salon. And it was here that Montreal’s The Box executed their first live performance since last March’s concert at Oshawa’s Regent Theatre.
Yes, it was a live-stream event to an on-set audience of nobody, yet in just under two hours, The Box comprising of lead vocalist Jean Marc Pisapia, guitarist Francois Bruneau, bassist Dan Volj, keyboardist Guillaume Jodoin, drummer Martin Lapierre and vocalist Isabelle Lemay were able to display their full range of material from classic hits to their more progressive stylings.
“It was not my most favourite setting, it was a little awkward finishing a song to no audience clapping but we just imagined an audience was out there and that saved us,” remarked lead vocalist Jean-Marc Pisapia. “If there had been even eight or 10 people in the audience clapping, that would have made all the difference but once we got playing, it was just like a normal gig. And considering that we hadn’t played for about 12 months, I thought we came across fine.”
Pisapia had great praise for the concert setting saying that the lights and concert sound was first class and that the Live Dans Ton Salon crew were extremely adept in making for a highly professional performance.
And understanding that the focus was on the band for almost two hours, The Box were able to project all the various facets of their musical arsenal. Kicking off with their usual opening high-energy tracks of “Carry On” and “Must I Always Remember” The Box then served up their latest single “Hey Little Rock Star” following with one of their biggest singles “Ordinary People”.
The Box then got to exhibit their musicianship with their prog-rock segment which featured “Hell On Earth” and “So Beautiful” from their highly acclaimed 2005 “Black Dog There” album before various members got to show off their individual talents on the extended “Temptation” track with keyboardist Jodoin soloing on his keytar and guitarist Bruneau and bassist Volj engaging in a duelling instrumental section, highlighting the fact that this band is capable of delivering much more than just radio-friendly pop music tracks.
Sandwiched in between, the band gave a rare outing to “Mont Saint Michel” a track off their francophone album (2009) D’Apres Le Hola De Maupassant with Pisapia explaining that the album’s theme honoured 19th-century French poet/author Guy De Maupassant whose short stories depicted human lives and social forces in disillusioned and pessimistic terms and is mandatory reading for anyone trying to master the French language.
Throughout the set, Pisapia spoke in both French and English to appeal to both audiences and was able to combine the two influences on the band’s masterpiece, “L’Affaire Dumoutier” the re-telling of a true story about someone who got away with murder by claiming he had a split personality.
Prior to that track, The Box reverted back to their classical pop stylings with “Crying Out Loud For Love”, “My Dreams Of You”, “Dancing On The Grave” and a rendition of their first hit single “Working Day” before wrapping their set with “L Affair Dumoutier”, their classic cover of Men Without Hats “Safety Dance” and finally, their big hit “Closer Together”.
For a band about to celebrate their 40th anniversary, The Box showed by this performance that they are still a viable musical entity, capable of reaching a current demographic as well as performing a catalogue of hits that reflect their impressive legacy.