Must-See Montreal Events in October 2017

Here are my choice Montreal arts and culture highlights for October 2017:


Rock icon Roger Waters is back in town.

Following his Montreal appearance on the red-carpet at the world premiere of the Opéra de Montréal’s Spring 2017 adaptation of Pink Floyd’s iconic album The Wall, called Another Brick In The Wall – The Opera, Waters (pictured at top) returns to Montreal this month to headline three Bell Centre concerts on his current massive Us + Them world tour.

The tour has gotten rave reviews and features songs from Pink Floyd’s greatest albums (The Dark Side of The Moon, Animals, The Wall, Wish You Were Here) plus some new songs from Waters’ new album, Is This the Life We Really Want? 

The seed for Waters’ iconic 1979 masterpiece The Wall was planted in 1977 when Waters infamously spat on a fan at a Pink Floyd concert at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium.

16830729_1331878796855922_1010878305472360590_nWhen asked at an Another Brick In The Wall – The Opera press conference why he spat on the fan in the first place, Waters looked straight at me, then replied, “What I think happened was, I was pissed off or disaffected about playing to a large number of people who – with all due respect to the population of Montreal – were completely f–king drunk and not paying much attention to what was going on onstage.”

Waters continued, “My response to that was to write a show that involved building a huge wall between me and the people I was trying to communicate with. I am very happy 40 years later that this piece that had its conception (in Olympic Stadium) with an appalling act that I committed all those years ago, should find its way back home to Montréal.”

Waters returns to headline three concerts at the Centre Bell on October 16, 17 and 19 in the city that welcomes him like a favourite son.

Over at MTelus (the former Metropolis concert venue), headliners include Mastodon (October 9), A Day to Remember (October 10), Phoenix (October 13), Getter (October 22), and Gavin DeGraw (October 24), who shot to fame with his hit 2004 single I Don’t Want to Be from his debut album Chariot, and which also became the theme song for the TV series One Tree Hill.

Over at the Corona Theatre, headliners include Hanson on their 25th anniversary tour (October 3), The New Pornographers (October 13), Death From Above (October 20), Japandroids (October 21), and Vance Joy (October 27).

Other notable shows this month include Quebec music icon Robert Charlebois who will headline three of his Rock’oustic shows at the Cinquième Salle at Place des Arts (October 26-28); South African music legend Johnny Clegg at Salle Wilfred-Pelletier (October 19); Mali’s Trio Da Kali at Club Balattou (October 13); and direct from London’s West End and Broadway, the international hit show Let It Be:  A Celebration of the music of The Beatles, at Théâtre St-Denis (October 26).

Must-see club gigs include Vancouver hardcore punk band D.O.A. at Petit Campus (October 18), the same venue where Montreal soul man Wayne Tennant will launch his new single Bend with a full live concert (October 23); and O Patro Vys celebrates its 15th anniversary with a star-studded concert on October 7.

Montreal soul queen Michelle Sweeney (Photo by Gilles Mercier)

Diva Michelle Sweeney (Photo: Gilles Mercier)

If rhythm and blues is your thing, Montreal soul legend Skipper Dean – the man with the golden voice and a thousand glittering stage outfits – has been entertaining audiences since the 1960s and stars in An Evening of Vintage Soul at the superb Montreal Art Centre in Griffintown (October 21); 22-year-old blues harmonica phenom Shawn McPherson will rekindle the fire of Sonny Boy Williamson and Little Walter at Upstairs Jazz Bar & Grill (October 12);  and Toronto singer Elise LeGrow headlines Divan Orange (October 15) in support of her ambitious debut album Playing Chess, a collection of reimagined songs drawn from the catalogue of Chicago’s iconic Chess Records, home to RnB pioneers Muddy Waters, Etta James, Bo Diddley, and Chuck Berry.

Two more concerts of note:

Montreal artist Josh “Socalled” Dolgin and his guests will set the famous silent horror film Der Golem to music, at the Imperial Cinéma on Friday the 13th, as part of the Festival du Nouveau Cinéma. Directed in 1915 by Paul Wegener and Henrik Galeen, the masterpiece of German expressionist cinema tells the story of a monster created from clay who spreads terror in a Jewish ghetto rather than defending its people.

And Montreal’s Queen of Soul Michelle Sweeney will headline the Women for Barbuda Soul Food Gospel Brunch concert to raise money and awareness for hurricane-ravaged Barbuda, with the River’s Edge Choir and other guests, at the downtown House of Jazz on Sunday, October 15, from 2 to 6 pm. Admission: $25 Brunch & Show + Donation of Women’s Toiletries (shampoo, razors, lotion, tampons etc.). Reservations: 514-842-8656.


In his 12th year at the helm of the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, Maestro Kent Nagano conducts the OSM in Montréal, The City of 100 Bell Towers, a concert celebrating the rich religious heritage of “the city of 100 bell towers,” with classic works performed by three world-renowned organists (Rachel Laurin, Patrick Wedd, Michel Bouvard) at the Maison symphonique de Montréal on October 28.


Critics are raving that Cameron Mackintosh’s new North American touring production of The Phantom of the Opera is “bigger and better than ever before.” This production features new scenic design by Paul Brown, Tony Award-winning original costume design by Maria Björnson, lighting design by Tony Award winner Paule Constable, new choreography by Scott Ambler, and new staging by director Laurence Connor.

Overseen by theatre legends Matthew Bourne and Cameron Mackintosh, this production boasts many exciting special effects including the show’s legendary chandelier. The score – with songs like “Music of the Night,” “All I Ask Of You,” and “Masquerade” – will be performed by a cast and orchestra of 52, making this Phantom one of the largest productions currently on tour.

There will be 16 performances at Salle Wilfred-Pelletier, from October 4 to 15.

Montreal’s English-language theatre scene is anchored by The Segal Centre for the Performing Arts in the West End and the venerable Centaur Theatre in Old Montréal, and they will face off with two hockey plays.

The Segal kicks off their 2017-2018 season with the world premiere of The Hockey Sweater: A Musical on October 19. The Segal commissioned the musical adaptation of Roch Carrier’s beloved short story, The Hockey Sweater. The production pays homage to this treasured Quebec story by reinventing the classic tale into a modern musical for the whole family. The production runs until November 12.

The Centaur Theatre opens its 49th season on October 3 with Shaun Smyth in a tour-de-force performance as hockey great Theo Fleury in Playing with Fire. You don’t need to know anything about hockey to love the exhilarating, heart-breaking and triumphant true story of this courageous Canadian hockey legend. With the odds stacked against him, considered too short to play hockey, the pint-sized Métis kid with huge ambitions from Russel, Manitoba, overcame crushing obstacles to become an NHL All-Star, win the Stanley Cup and represent Canada twice at the Olympic Games where he earned a Gold medal. Playing with Fire –performed entirely on ice – runs until October 29.


Canada’s oldest professional Black theatre company, Black Theatre Workshop kicks off its 47th season with playwright Katori Hall’s masterpiece The Mountaintop, which won the Olivier Award for best new play in 2010. The Mountaintop is about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who – after delivering one of his most memorable speeches, “I Have Been to the Mountaintop”, on April 3, 1968 – retires to his room at the Lorraine Motel amidst a raging storm. When a mysterious stranger arrives at his door, Dr. King (portrayed by acclaimed Montreal actor Tristan D. Lalla) is forced to confront his destiny and legacy as a leading figure in the American Civil Rights Movement. The Mountaintop will be presented in the Studio at The Segal Centre for the Performing Arts from October 14 to 29.

Over at the Theatre du Nouveau Monde, do not miss what is shaping up to be the musical of the season, a truly terrific revival of Michel Tremblay’s sensational musical Demain matin, Montréal m’attend, directed by René Richard Cyr. I enjoyed this production immensely – not to mention that the show’s music director and arranger is none other than Montreal pianist Chris Barillaro, who also sang the theme song for our popular Montreal arts and entertainment website Curtains Up. Demain matin, Montréal m’attend runs to October 22.


Opening in late October at Theatre Jean-Duceppe, fearless playwright Steve Galluccio’s much-anticipated dramedy Les secrets de la Petite Italie explores the impact a trans woman has on a conservative Italian-Montreal family. The play runs from October 25 to December 2.

There are two plays of note this month at Mainline Theatre, the home of indie theatre in Montreal: Their annual production of The Rocky Horror Show – complete with live band – returns from October 19 to 31; and Captain Aurora: The Concert features 22 songs from Trevor Barrette’s hit Fringe musicals Captain Aurora I: The Rise of the SkyGuard and Captain Aurora II: A New Dawn, one-night-only on October 7.


Montreal’s top dance series, Danse Danse, presents celebrated Montreal-based American choreographer Andrew Skeels’ seasonal work Rose of Jericho at the Cinquième Salle of Place des Arts (October 10-14).

Meanwhile, Les Grands Ballets launch their new season with a mesmerizing double bill: Stabat MATER & Beethoven’s 7th Symphony by choreographers Edward Clug and Uwe Scholz, featuring the company’s dancers in two major musical works performed with Les Grands Ballets Orchestra. For Ivan Cavallari, Artistic Director of Les Grands, Stabat Mater symbolizes not only the sorrow of the Virgin Mary at the foot of the cross, but also the universal suffering that contemporary society hides away from because it reminds us of death and our finite nature. The evening’s second work is Beethoven’s 7th Symphony, described by Richard Wagner as “the apotheosis of dance”. The double-bill runs at Theatre Maisonneuve from October 11 to 28.


A star-studded line-up of international deejays will spin at Montréal’s 27th annual Black & Blue Festival which runs from October 5 to 9, during the (always convenient) Canadian Thanksgiving and American Columbus Day Weekend. This year’s all-night Black & Blue Main Event will be held at the Pierre Charbonneau Amphitheatre in Montréal’s Olympic park on October 8 from 10 pm to 10 am the following morning. Lots of performances all night, but what really counts are Main Event sets by superstar DJs Roger Sanchez and Victor Calderone.


William F. (Buffalo Bill) Cody was already a legend of the American Old West when he founded the internationally-famed Buffalo Bill’s Wild West travelling show in 1883, which visited Montreal in August 1885. He and Sioux chief Sitting Bull posed for Montreal photographer William Notman for what has arguably become the most famous photo of the myth of the American Wild West – and it was taken in Montreal.

This mythical photo of the American Old West with Sioux chief Sitting Bull and William F. (Buffalo Bill) Cody was taken by Montreal photographer William Notman in Montreal, and is part of the MMFA's Once upon a time… The Western exhibition

This mythical photo of the American Old West with Sioux chief Sitting Bull and William F. (Buffalo Bill) Cody was taken by Montreal photographer William Notman in Montreal, and is part of the MMFA’s Once upon a time… The Western exhibition

Notman’s iconic photo is one of over 400 paintings, sculptures, installations, photographs, artefacts, film stills and excerpts in the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts’ blockbuster Once upon a time… The Western exhibition which offers a new interpretation of the Western film genre by examining its links to the visual arts (painting, sculpture, photography) from the middle of the 19th century to today.  The exhibition deals with prejudices against First Nations peoples that it helped to perpetuate by showing how art has the power to both maintain and challenge the most widespread beliefs. Once upon a time… The Western runs from October 14 to February 4, 2018.

The Montreal Science Centre presents the Indigenous Ingenuity exhibition showcasing Indigenous science and timeless inventions by Indigenous Peoples from across North America. Visitors can take part in a virtual canoe race, build an igloo, test a kayak’s centre of gravity, and discover interactive frescoes. This exhibition will engage and educate children and adults alike, beginning on October 12.

Renowned Montreal painter Yunus Chkirate presents his eighth solo exhibition titled ELEVATION on October 2 at Espace LaFontaine, which will present his custom works of art and a multi-media live performance in collaboration with Irish ballet dancer Leigh Alderson. Half the proceeds from the ticketed event will benefit RÉZO, and there will also be a free public exhibition on October 3 from 10 am to 7 pm. Says Yunus, “The collaboration I am doing with Leigh Alderson is really a reaction to the root of addiction problems. I really got involved with this after seeing how devastating Crystal Meth has been on the (gay) community. I’m partnering up with REZO for their new project since it’s opening the discussion more about drug use and gay sexuality.”

Montreal artist Yunus Chkirate (Photo courtesy Yunus Chkirate)

Montreal artist Yunus Chkirate (Photo courtesy Yunus Chkirate)

The Miriam Foundation hosts its 7th Annual ART Auction for Autism at the Parisian Laundry on October 10. The auctioneer is Montrealer-about-town Josh Silver. The fundraiser will support an underfunded cause: autism spectrum disorders and intellectual disabilities.


The 46th Montreal Festival du nouveau cinema (FNC), the granddaddy of Canadian film fests, runs from October 4 to 15. This year’s program presents 383 films from 68 countries over 11 days at 12 venues, including 43 world premieres, 45 North American premieres and 55 Canadian premieres.

Kicking off this year’s edition is Montreal director Denis Villeneuve’s latest work, Blade Runner 2049, at Théâtre Maisonneuve on October 4, the day after the film’s red-carpet world premiere in L.A., and two days before it goes into wide release on October 6. The cast is led by Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford who is resuming his role as Rick Deckard in this sequel to the 1982 Ridley Scott classic.

Then, on Saturday, October 14, the FNC will wrap up with Loving Vincent by Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman: an animated masterpiece chronicling the final days of the legendary Van Gogh through 120 of his works — an undertaking that called for 65,000 frames hand-painted by some 120 artists.

Other film events this month worth your hard-earned cash are the high-definition screenings of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets with a live orchestra performing the score by John Williams, at Salle Wilfred-Pelletier on October 21 and 22; and (due to high demand) three Trannavision: Hocus Pocus screenings on October 21, hosted by none other than stand-up diva Tranna Wintour at Psychic City.


Renowned Montreal writers H. Nigel Thomas and Maguy Métellus co-host Lectures Logos Readings (formerly Lectures Kola Readings), the monthly bilingual reading series of poetry, fiction and spoken word at the Universal Negro Improvement Association (U.N.I.A. Hall at 2741 Notre Dame St. W.) in Little Burgundy, October 16 from 7 to 9 pm. Their readers include award-winning authors and beginning writers. Confirmed readers so far this month are Jan Jorgensen, Gabette Garraway, Claire Sherwood and Jesse Chase. The names of the Francophone authors will be announced soon. The event is free, but a small donation is welcome.

Blue Metropolis hosts its Out, Loud & Clear LGBTQ literary evening to benefit Blue Met’s queer programming and initiatives to promote diversity and combat homophobia. Hosted by drag diva Miss Butterfly at the Arsenal art contemporain Montréal in Griffintown on October 3, the event will feature readings by local writers and artists. Honoured guests are Carolyn Boll, Denis-Martin Chabot, Judith Lussier and H. Nigel Thomas. Cocktails at 6 pm, and the readings begin at 6:30 pm.


Other literary events of note this month include the Montreal book launch of Policing Black Lives by Black feminist author and activist Robyn Maynard, at the Grande Bibliothèque on October 16; WORDS AFTER DARK with Alan Doyle, former lead singer of Great Big Sea who will discuss his latest book, A Newfoundlander in Canada, with host and Curtains Up contributor Sharman Yarnell Massey at the Atwater Library on October 20; and the latest instalment of the queer reading series The Violet Hour (Halloween Edition), featuring David Demchuk (The Bone Mother), Nairne Holtz (Femme Confidential), Elio Iannacci, Cason Sharpe (Our Lady of Perpetual Realness & Other Stories) and Neil Smith (Boo), at gay-male strip joint Stock Bar on October 31 at 7 pm. Admission: $5 (PWYC).

If you have got some disposable cash, Hillary Clinton headlines the Palais des congrès de Montréal on October 23, and former CBC News anchor Peter Mansbridge: Live Coast to Coast headlines Theatre Maisonneuve on October 30.


Don’t miss the big-hearted and always funny Montreal drag troup the House of Laureen headline Cleopatra’s on The Main on October 21 at 10 pm in an all-new show called The Twilight Zone. The show is offered on a Pay What You Can (PWYC) basis with a suggested donation of $12.

Cleo’s will also host the monthly Candyass Cabaret the night before, on October 20. This Superstitions edition will showcase the long-running series’ eclectic but always entertaining Vaudeville-style burlesque show presented by Montreal burlesque queen Velma Candyass. Showtime is 10 pm.


If you’re unable to check out big-ticket RuPaul’s Drag Race: Werq The World – Montreal Halloween Edition at the Theatre Berri on October 28, be sure to catch two American drag legends – Sherry Vine and Jackie Beat – battle it out onstage at Cabaret Mado in Battle of the Bitches! on October 19.

Last but not least, the 18th annual Festival du monde arabe showcases poets, dancers, musicians and acrobatic spirits at 20 events (four of them free) at various venues from October 27 to November 12. More about the FMA here next month.

About Richard Burnett

Richard “Bugs” Burnett self-syndicated his national column Three Dollar Bill in over half of Canada’s alt-weeklies for 15 years, has been banned in Winnipeg, investigated by the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary over charges TDB was “pornographic”, gotten death threats, outed politicians like former Parti Quebecois leader Andre Boisclair, been vilified in the pages of Jamaica’s national newspaper The Gleaner for criticizing anti-gay dancehall star Sizzla (who would go on to write the 2005 hit song “Nah Apologize” about Burnett and UK gay activist Peter Tatchell), pissed off BB King, crossed swords with Mordecai Richler, been screamed at backstage by Cyndi Lauper and got the last-ever sit-down interview with James Brown. Burnett was Editor-at-Large of HOUR until the Montreal alt-weekly folded in April 2011, is Editor-at-Large of The Charlebois Post (Canada), is a columnist and writer for both Fugues and Xtra, writes the POP TART blog for The Montreal Gazette, and is the pop culture pundit on The Barry Morgan Show every Friday from 8:30 – 9 pm on Montreal’s CJAD 800 AM Radio. Burnett was named one of Alberta-based Outlooks magazine’s Canadian Heroes of the Year in 2009, famed porn director Flash Conway dubbed Burnett “Canada’s bad boy syndicated gay columnist” and The Montreal Buzz says, “As Michael Musto is to New York City, Richard Burnett is to Montréal.”

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