Live

LIVE: Eliza Dolittle, Montreal Jazz Festival

by Winston "Stone" Ford

The UK has an absurd amount of pop singer-songwriter talent. Adele is only the tip of the iceburg.

The island nation has already given us Amy, Adele and Corinne. Jessie J is on deck as well as a host of other females (check our feature on Florrie). And then there is Eliza Dolittle. She may not have the name recognition or pop swagger as the ladies mentioned above, but her show in Montreal proved that she’s well on her way to getting there.

Dolittle’s (nee Eliza Sophie Caird) mix of pop, R&B and rockabilly looks too far fetched at first. Her quirky trademark cutoff shorts and perky personality seem to to be created somewhere in a record company lab. Even some of her songs (like “Rollerblades”) straddle the line of cheesy pop too closely to take seriously.

However, what her show proved on Sunday night is that Dolittle was a competent performer. Rocking out with a full band, the starlet blew through her entire album it seems in the the 2 hour set. She might not be as commanding as some pop stars on stage but she’s getting there. Songs like “Mr. Medicine,” were potent enough to get the crowd to move early, but it’s the track “Pack Up,” that started to win the crowd over.

To do a two hour set with one album means that you have to do a few covers, and Dolittle’s choices ranged from the frighteningly obvious (Cee Lo’s “Fuck You,” and Bruno Mars’ “Grenade) to the overly ambitious (Aretha Frankin’s “I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You,” and Kanye’s “Runaway”). The former were too textbook to stand out, while the latter might just be ones that put her on the map.

Having that said, Dolittle is on to something. She already called the Montreal show her “best ever,” and the hype crowd was so overwhelming that band members and her crew whipped out their cameras to capture the moment. After crowd pressure, Dolittle played a 1 song encore (“we were scrambling backstage because we didn’t know what to play,” she says) and before she could finish her last note I’m sure her management team were making calls to bring her back to Canada.

Even though Dolittle’s show sold out, and she has become the breakout star of the festival, the question remains…is she a viable pop star for the North American market? It might take another album for Dolittle to achieve greatness but things are lining up in her direction. The sold-out show in Montreal is a first step. And with pop music moving into a more organic direction (think Adele and Bruno), there is most certainly room at the table for her sound. Check it.