Canadian Music Week: Jully Black @ The Phoenix

When you’ve got the entire audience in a packed venue singing along with your songs, you know you’re doing something right. Such was the case for Jully Black at the Phoenix Concert Theatre on Tuesday night for Canadian Music Week.

It’s a rare feat, especially in a reserved town like Toronto. Black hit the stage brimming with octane and had the crowd upping their own tempo immediately to support her grandeur.

“Grand” is a good way to describe a Jully Black concert. Her versatile R&B flavour and big voice lends itself to big stages. Black knows it, too, because she fills her stage with high-energy musicians and backup dancers. I usually question why coordinated dance routines are a thing; at concerts they seem phony more often than not. Somewhere during the night, though, the passion that Black and her ensemble clearly put into their performance convinced me that a Jully Black show is a show through and through, almost as physical as it is musical.

That went for the crowd, too. From the hardcore front row fans to the wallflowers in the back, it was hard to find a single person in the Phoenix who wasn’t moving to the rhythmic, poppy set.

When Black is at her best she is a unique force that transcends the shade of watered-down pop found in her lesser songs. Not that there’s many of those. As hundreds of adoring fans chanted along to Black’s crowd-pleaser “I Travelled”, her talent and mass appeal shone through.

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