Picture this scene: You’re at a beautiful circa 1800s church filled with detailed artwork and religious symbols. However at this church, you aren’t there to pray. Instead, you’re dancing the night away with 1000 other music loves to the sounds of 70s disco. Well, that’s exactly what I did last night at Giorgio Moroder’s POP Montreal concert!
Giorgio Moroder is an Italian born producer/DJ, perhaps best know for his numerous recordings with the late Donna Summer, along with being one of the leading forces in terms of Disco production in that era. This marks the DJ’s first performance in the city of Montreal, along with the headlining show of the POP Montreal festival.
I enter the venue at about 10:00PM, just in time to catch the final tune of the opening act, Organ Mood. The church lights are dimmed low, though there are flashy red lights that shoot out from the stage. The crowd is one of the weirdest I’ve seen in a while. In a fairly unexpected turn of events, most of the spectators are 50 and over! Having said that, it was not hard to find clumps of people in their early 20s but almost no middle ground. I squeeze my way in the closest spot I could possibly find, nine rows back, sandwiched in between two 60-something year olds.
It doesn’t take long for the show to kick off. At exactly 10:29PM, Giorgio slowly makes his way to the stage. Before he dives into the music, he starts off by speaking to the audience in French; “Ce Soir, je joue dans une église!” (Tonight, I play in a church!) Despite the blatant obviousness of what he had just said, the crowd let out an excited cheer, probably just excited to hear him spin as opposed to what he had to say! “Alors, on se commence.” (So we begin.).
Right off the bat, the DJ drops a definite crowd pleaser, Donna Summer’s “Let Me Love You Baby”, only with a twist. The version he dropped last night was in fact his own 2013 remix of the song.
It didn’t take long for him to switch it up. About 2 songs later, Giorgio shifted over to a more contemporary crowd pleaser, Kygo’s “Firestone“. This should have been a sign of what was about to come. The song was the first of many recent mainstream club hits over the past 5 years that Moroder dropped throughout the night. Other noticeable names included Zedd and Selena Gomez’s “I Want To Know”, along with the more egregious “Levels” by Avicii and an EDM remix of Iggy Azalea and Charli XCX’s “Fancy”. As he DJs, there is a 10 foot tall projector in back of him, displaying pixelated psychedelic streams of colour.
Although he did tend to throw a few disco classics into the mix whilst doing this, I couldn’t help but feel uncomfortable at first. This wasn’t just because of the visual discomfort provided to me by the old couples dancing around me trying to get into EDM but also because it felt as if he was trying to hard to prove to the crowd that he was still up to date with what have been hot tracks. He even pulls the typical EDM-superstar move of raising his hands at the audience before the drops!
However, the more I thought about it, the more it started to make sense. EDM arguably has the same effect on dance floors that Disco reigned throughout the 70s and early 80s. Of course, Giorgio being at the forefront of some of the genre’s biggest hits meant that he was also a leading force in Pop music at that time. When that factor came into play, his choice of “Levels” and “Fancy” suddenly became more settling to me.
Despite the use of EDM, it was without a doubt that the tracks that resonated the most with the audience were his classic Disco hits, particularly the ones he produced for Donna Summer. In particular, “Bad Girls” and “Last Dance” (the fittingly last song he played before indulging in an encore) were the biggest crowd pleasers.
After an encore, which had Moroder doing his best to cram in all of the hits he had missed throughout the set such as “Hot Stuff” and a remixed version of “Take My Breath Away”, it was time for the legend to depart. After saying his “Merci” and “Au Revoir”, he told the crowd that he would see us again next year, an obvious sign of having enjoyed the energy throughout the night.
The sole fact that this show was in a church already made it one for the books. Seeing a legend of Giorgio’s caliber play Disco and EDM in a religious sanctuary is something I could have only envisioned in my wildest dreams. Although we were in church, the experience made me feel as if I was already in heaven. Amen!