Alice Phoebe Lou Blossoms at La Tulipe

Alice Phoebe Lou’s solo show at Montréal’s La Tulipe was certainly not one to miss, one of the best concerts I’ve ever attended. The sweetness and soulfulness that emanate from her raw vocals and lyrics are embodied by the person she is, a winsome presence who is tooth-achingly sweet, and oozes love and emotion.

Despite her short stature, Alice Phoebe Lou filled the 760-person La Tulipe venue with charisma to spare. The Cape Town-born, Berlin-based singer was literally bouncing with energy (jumping over cords and musical equipment onstage), which she claimed was reciprocated from the energy from the 514 crowd. The historic venue gave the illusion of stepping back in time – while Lou’s voice filled the space and haunted the stage with her beautiful infectious spirit. This enthusiasm and vigour she carried with the crowd banter was a delightful juxtaposition to her mellow, ethereal, berceuse songs. Her comfortable command of the stage and conversational repartee gave the impression and feeling of intimacy of having been invited into her living room to be serenaded by her after a dinner party. 

With her raw and crystalline clear vocals, Lou dipped deeper into her wide repertoire of songs from her discography. Playing such songs as “Hammer” and “My Girl” from her latest EP Shelter (2023), as well as tunes from her sophomore album, Paper Castles (2019), such as “Fynbos” which elicited screams of joy. Continuing a Montreal tradition, Alice played “Something Holy” – a song she has retired from her setlist and to quote her, it is a song that she “doesn’t really fuck with anymore.” The crowd sang along enthusiastically and the Montreal-exclusive moment was among the most memorable and electric highlights of the show. 

The opener, Sam Burton, was atmospheric and moody, playing a more languid, subdued set which contrasted with Alice Phoebe Lou’s champagne bubbly persona. He returned during her set to play a duet of “Early Morning Rain” a Canadian classic Gordon Lightfoot song, the lyrics to which Alice had written on a paper, quipping, “I can never remember these lyrics so I’m here with my homework!” The duet underscored their connection as artists and friends and was an extraordinary moment to witness.

In addition to her stage presence and crowd engagement, Alice Phoebe Lou is an artist with an especially pure soul. Waiting for my bus after the show, I ran into Lou and felt compelled to tell her how incredible the experience of her show had been. She was as bubbly, sweet and genuine in my interaction with her offstage as she was onstage – although I didn't need to be sold on her magnetism, this exchange cemented it for me! Her solo act was incredibly moving, bringing me to tears even, and her voice and musical talent in live form were hauntingly beautiful. To quote a fan from the audience who managed to wrap up my sentiments upon leaving the show, “I felt like I just had a religious experience.”