CONCERT REVIEW: John Forte at Club Soda, Montreal Jazz Festival

“There is not a day that goes by when I don’t think about what happened” – John Forte

This show was an hour and a half late, and we were made to wait in line.

However, when most shows start late, the first thing that comes to people’s mind is that the artist is being a diva. Many people assume that the artist is chilling in some air-conditioned green room dining on lobster while their fans suffer outside.

That might be true for some artists, but not for John Forte. He had an excuse–he couldn’t make it through Canadian customs.

If you don’t know, John was arrested over 7 years ago for possession of liquid cocaine, and most famously got his sentenced reduced by an outgoing President Bush. Since then, crossing the border has been a feat for Mr Forte, who pulled up to the venue and walked in the front door just as people in line started to complain about the wait.

But Forte is not ashamed of his past. He’s strengthened by it. Instead of ignoring his ordeal, during the first half of his show–the only part I was able to see thanks to a Roots show going on right after–he’s turned it into sort of a punch line making fun of his adventure through customs.

But it’s not all fun and games. “There is not a day that goes by when I don’t think about what happened,” he says as he leads into a song from his 2002 album “I, John.” Flanked only by some subtle keys and a bongo drum, the trio on stage was able to recreate John’s hardened and introspective sound. Most notably the track Kate Bush penned track “‘Runnin’ Up That Hill,” which combines the classic hook with his laid back rhymes.

The concert, set in a laid back environment with audience members seated in tables and chairs, was a very good way to start off our trip to Montreal. This show was a long time coming, and was most certainly worth the wait.