Review: Patrick Watson with the NAC Orchestra

The aftermath

First off, can I just say that every time I go to the National Arts Center it’s a magical experience?  It helped that they had recently renovated the building and it was really great to roam around for a half hour taking it all in.  I don’t ever dismiss that I am within the capital of Canada and am a lucky individual.

Now, onto the music!  Months ago Jean-Francois tipped me off on a presale code for Patrick Watson along with the NAC Orchestra coming into town.  I jumped on the ticket and secretly purchased one right next to Jean-Francois and Marie-Claude but told them that the thing was sold out and I wasn’t able to get tickets.  Heh heh heh.  Circumstances arose and I did tip them off a few days before of my secret plan so the surprise was kind of lost, but it was great to see them there nonetheless!

I can’t recall ever seeing a band play with an orchestra before so I was in for a treat.  Plus Patrick Watson’s music lends itself well to an orchestra compare to…let’s say…Metallica S&M? (great album by the way, but it’s not like a lot of their music was a good fit!)

We had some excellent seats up in the Mezannine level…dead center and two rows from the ledge.  You couldn’t ask for a better view.

They opened with a piece that was written by a Canadian composer for the 2010 Winter Olympics.  Then the band came out and started with Lighthouse.  Now, if I would have just heard that and left the building, I would have been satisfied.  It’s amazing what the power of a orchestra has over your soul and your ears.  It’s quite forceful.  Marie-Claude remarked that they had changed all the acoustics within the Southam Hall and the orchestra sounded better than ever.

Close your eyes to any piece of music that night and you would see visuals dancing through your head.  Their music is very cinematic and couple with the orchestra makes it doubly so.  There were great moments within the show like when the orchestra had some fun with early 40s/50s sound effects for animation like Looney Tunes.  At one point they had balloons deflating and then you saw all the balloons flying around the stage!  The crowd immediately ate that up and gave a great cheer.

While not an exact setlist match, if you are curious to what I witnessed, you can watch a Youtube video of a previous symphonic concert collaboration filmed in Toronto here.

The show lasted around 90 minutes and then the band came back for an encore without the orchestra.  It was very gracious of them after an amazing night.  Unfortunately for me, every time I see Patrick Watson I leave feeling inspired, yet frustrated that I do not yet have the abilities to mimic the amazing sonic landscapes that this band can accomplish.  One day!

The NAC announced no pictures were to be taken.  I snuck this one in as everyone was giving a standing ovation and it was the end of the set anyhow.

Setlist (not in order…can’t recall a lot of the order)


Good Morning Mr. Wolf

Wooden Arms

Slip Into Your Skin

Melody Noir

Where the Wild Things Are

Adventures In Your Own Backyard (I’m pretty sure he made mention of it being about a hot tub in your backyard)

Into Giants

Traveling Salesman


To Build a Home [The Cinematic Orchestra]


Big Bird in a Small Cage (He had the audience sing along with him near the end)

Encore 2:




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