Leif Vollebekk @ Rialto Rooftop - POP Montreal 2016

There are scores of shows at POP Montreal, more rare are the MOMENTS,  when everything is beautiful, everyone is engaged, your throat tightens and you smile to yourself because you know that this is truly special. Leif Vollebekk's Friday night rooftop set was such a moment. Panoramic views over Montreal, gothic rooftops and the Mt Royal cross pushing up into the cloud line, the sun setting golden orange in the Montreal north. On a Persian rug island ringed with electric candelabra, Vollebekk sets up, invites the tiny crowd to pull near. What follows is a deeply intimate hour of music, Vollebekk alternately behind the keyboard and guitar, traffic from Parc Avenue offering the occasional punctuation. 

Vollebekk's voice is all unexpected corners and velvet straightlaways, sweet and suffused with longing. He weaves stories of love affairs and life on the road, painting portraits of small towns and friends he's known. Stand-outs from this set included a solo acoustic version of "Off the Main Drag" and an electric cover of Joni Mitchell's "Case of You" that felt like the sweetest kind of a punch to the gut. Vollebekk is a deft player, but what sets him apart is his ability to tap into a pure emotionality without it ever feeling contrived. 

As the set came to as close,  the sky darkening to night, couples huddled close, friends smiled to each other.  Pop, you said #ITSGONNABEMAGIC, and it really was.