ARAB STRAP @ La Tulipe

By Erin Stewart - Rock the Plank - 04/05/2006

The crowd was buzzing and the atmosphere palpable at La Tulipe, in anticipation of Arab Strap’s return to Montreal. Sadly I missed what I heard was an excellent set from locals The Field Register, and was downstairs preparing interview questions during A Whisper in the Noise’s underwhelming set. However from the first strains of Arab Strap’s recognizable melancholy, I was down front and center-side to finally see a ‘Strap performance after nearly a decade of fandom. Having high expectations of “one of the best shows ever” as exhorted by my friend Patrick in the shuttle bus line, and the excellence of their new album The Last Romance, they did not disappoint.

In attendance at La Tulipe was an older crowd than your average indie rock show, there to witness an older, calmer, more contented Arab Strap. Aidan Moffat was drinking on stage to be sure, but it was in a more subdued manner, even switching to water for a pint. Stories of shows of yore inevitably involve frontman Moffat as well as musical mastermind Malcolm Middleton getting shitfaced on stage, and swearing at the crowd. This night however, the crowd was more abrasive than the band, with a few drunkards yelling at them to drink up, and the most surreal moment of the evening was attributed to a bleach-blonde white-Capri-pant girl, somewhere between a hoochie and a cougar, who climbed on stage and started dancing till security pulled her off. Running the full gamut of their oeuvre from The Week Never Starts Around Here to their newest offering, the songs were full-bodied with the support of three backing players joining Moffat and Middleton on this tour. They played a strong set from start to finish, and after some crowd-stamping, just Moffat and Middleton ended the evening with a beautiful acoustic encore of “The Shy Retirer” from Monday at the Hug and Pint and “Packs of Three” from the first album I owned, Philophobia. After the show, my Rock The Plank co-host Susannah and I were lucky enough to interview Aidan Moffat, who was every bit the lovely, charming Scotsman.

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