Concert Reviews Music

Giddy-up for country sensation Morgan Wallen’s electric Montreal performance

Morgan Wallen’s performance in Montreal on Saturday, Sept. 23 opened with Bailey Zimmerman and Ernest giving the fans a show to remember. 

Montreal’s Bell Centre came alive on Saturday night as Morgan Wallen took the stage to perform the 34th show of his 2023 One Night At A Time World Tour. Decked out in cowboy hats, boots, and flannel shirts, the electric crowd was in for a treat with opening acts Bailey Zimmerman and Ernest. Wallen, riding the high of his latest album, One Thing At A Time, made history with all 36 tracks simultaneously charting on Billboard’s Hot 100, surpassing Drake’s record. 

Bailey Zimmerman, the 23-year-old American singer and songwriter from Illinois was energetic and passionate as he bounced around the stage, high-fived fans on the floor, and flipped his hair back and forth. He sang his hit singles “Fall In Love” and “Rock and A Hard Place” and ended his performance referencing bible verse Mark 9:23: “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” 

“If you take anything away from my show tonight, it’s that there’s gonna be people telling you what you’re doing is crazy, but if I didn’t follow my dreams, I would not be here in Montreal opening for the Morgan Wallen One Night At A Time tour!” he exclaimed enthusiastically.  

Up next was Ernest, American country music singer and songwriter who beamed on stage with his personalized leather guitar strap and his “Gallagher #11” Montreal Canadians jersey. He launched an “olé, olé olé” chant and the crowd went wild. He sang some of his songwriting marvels  “Did It With You,” “Son of a Sinner,” and “Somebody’s Problem”, the latter being a song he wrote for Wallen’s Dangerous: The Double Album in 2021.  

As he strummed the opening chords of his hit song “Flower Shops,” he revealed that this song “validated what [he] thought was true. Country music is still alive and well,” Ernest added.

The audience illuminated the Bell Centre with a sea of cellphone flashlights, swaying in harmony with the music. As the song drew to a close, Montreal Canadiens’ Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield made a surprise appearance, joining Ernest on stage to toss red roses into the crowd.  

As Ernest concluded his performance at 8:25 p.m., the anticipation in the air heightened. Wallen emerged from his dressing room strutting to his duet with Lil Durk “Broadway Girls” at 9:20 p.m. He sported a white long-sleeved shirt, beige jeans, and a green duck hat that matched his duck necklace. Wallen took centre stage atop a riser to kickstart the night with his crowd-pleaser, “Up Down”. Smoke bombs and fireworks sparked as he shouted, “What’s going on Montreal, how we doing tonight?!”  

He thanked the fans for their dedication and introduced his crew on stage with him—Mark “Taco” Annino on drums, Luke Cowboy Rice on bass and guitar, Tyler Tomlinson on guitar, Chris Gladden on keys, Tony Aichele on guitar and Dominic Frost on guitar and lead vocals.

Following “I Wrote The Book,” “One Thing At A Time,” and “Everything I Love” was “’98 Braves” with a story about his love for baseball. He shared that baseball taught him a lot about life and is the reason why he has persevered in the music industry and has created the Morgan Wallen Foundation. The Foundation’s goal is to support programs for youth in sports and music because Wallen believes that “all children deserve a chance to thrive, play, and create.” For every concert ticket sold, $3 goes to support the foundation’s work.  

His next songs were “You Proof,” “Ain’t That Some,” “Sunrise,” and “Cover Me Up”—one of the first songs he wrote. “This song gave me a lot of faith, hope, and encouragement that maybe I wasn’t crazy about moving away from home and being a country singer. Maybe I was doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing. Thank you for letting me sing about stuff that means a lot to me,” Wallen said during his emotional speech.  

He then segued into “Chasing You” and “Thought You Should Know”, a touching tribute to his mother, accompanied by his guitarist Dominic. Wallen invited Zimmerman back on stage to perform a spirited rendition of “I Deserve A Drink”. The latter wore an Expos baseball jersey and bright red jeans. 

Ernest later re-joined Wallen to perform “Cowgirls” together. After returning from a brief break, Wallen emerged sporting a “#7 Wallen HABS” jersey, eliciting roars of excitement from the crowd. The highlight of the night was “Last Night,” which had become the year’s biggest country song across North America in all genres, marking a significant milestone for Wallen.  

His last song of the night was “Whiskey Glasses” and the concert concluded with fireworks, leaving fans thrilled with the experience. “That was officially one of the best concerts I’ve ever been to,” proclaimed Sam Tanner, a fourth-year JMSB student at Concordia. “I went with my mom, and it was definitely worth the money.” 

After the concert, fans flocked to merchandise stands and sang Wallen’s hit songs all the way to the Lucien-L’Allier metro station, concluding a memorable evening of country music in Montreal. 


Concordia Stingers unveil new arena

With their six month renovation plan now complete, Concordia’s newly appointed director of Athletics and Recreation, Patrick Boivin and associate vice president of facilities management Peter Bolla unveiled the new and improved Ed Meagher arena last Wednesday.

Photo provided by Concordia University

During a tour of the new arena, with both the women and men’s hockey teams in attendance, Boivin and Bolla spoke about the finances needed for the project that saw a new rink surface built. The renovations cost Concordia $7.75 million.

They spoke about the new refrigeration system put in place to make the arena more eco-friendly. With the new ice surface, the rink can now be open 11 months a year, instead of the seven before the renovations, according to the university’s press release.

As well as a new ice surface, the arena also has new boards and a new heating system has been installed, “the burning of natural gas has been replaced by recycled heat generated by the new heating system,” explained the press release.

The arena was also expanded by 2,500 sq. ft, according to the press release. During the tour, they showed the new dressing rooms in the arena, which are now larger due to the expansion. The equipment storage room is also bigger and Concordia has added two new changing rooms for the rugby and soccer teams, while upgrading the hockey changing rooms are also bigger.

The feedback from the athletes was very positive and they were proud to talk about the new features. Both the women and the men’s hockey team were there preparing for practice as the tour was being conducted.

“This is actually my first year and this arena seems very welcoming and it’s a great environment to play hockey,” left-winger Anthony Nobili said.

“I think it’s great and I find it really accessible,” goaltender Carolanne Lavoie-Pilon said. “There’s a lot of space [and] it’s very comfortable and the rooms are awesome.”

Captain Erin Lally echoed both Lavoie-Pilon and Nobili’s comments.

“I am really excited about the new facilities it’s a breath of fresh air and I’m really happy to be a part of it,” she said.

“I really find it a first-class facility and were starting to get settled,” said left-winger Taylor Lambke of the new arena.

Right-winger Charles-Alexandre Plaisir also added that “I didn’t [get] to see the old arena but I feel at home when I’m here it’s a great place, great atmosphere and the ice is wonderful.”

However the excitement of a new arena did come with some challenges. Boivin and Bolla spoke about some of the flaws of the renovations, saying that during the men’s first game, there were issues with the Zamboni door not closing properly. They were quick to point out that every arena at the beginning is not perfect and that things needed to be tested before hand to make sure they were running smoothly.

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