Progressive rock legends Maneige were definitely one of the best bands to emerge from the fertile Québec scene from the early to mid 70's. The group's recorded output over the course of approximately 11 years consisted of a handful of studio releases along with one live album which were all unique and diverse pieces of work featuring some of the finest skilled musicians from the province. Thanks to the folks over at ProgQuébec parts of their back catalogue has been re-issued over the last few years, including the much heralded live archive release Live à L'Évêché back in 2005. This brings us to this recently unearthed gem of a concert recorded as the liner notes indicate, in either 1974 or 75 called Les Porches Live.
Clocking in at just over an hour, it's quickly evident that what you are hearing is a band firing on all cylinders. As the title indicates, the group performs their 2nd album Les Porches in all its splendid glory along with two compositions off of their debut release and one previously unreleased number called "Chou-Fleur". Maneige were anchored by the Langlois brothers Jérôme (piano, clarinet and guitar) and Vincent (piano and percussion) but it is the dynamic musical interplay between Jérôme and fellow reedman Alain Bergeron (flute, piccolo and saxophone) which really ignites and raises the whole performance to a higher level at times on this recording . The opening track "Les Aventures de Saxinette et Clarophone" is a perfect example of this. However that being said Maneige were also a perfect example of the whole being greater than the sum of it's parts with each band member working to achieve the perfect synergy. While Bergeron states in the liner notes that the sound and mix of Les Porches Live is good for it's day, I personally found it to be even better than that. All of the instruments come through evenly in the mix with no imbalances, although I'm partial to how Yves Léonard's slinky, thick bass lines come through prominently in the mix at times. Les Porches Live is a great long lost live document and considering that Jérôme Langlois would leave the band not long after due to creative differences, makes it all the more special. If you are new to Maneige you could do no wrong by picking up this fantastic live CD and if you are already familiar with their work then chances are you've added this gem to your collection by now. Note: In the liner notes Bergeron makes reference to releasing the studio versions of these songs at a later date. One can only hope that this means ProgQuébec will soon be releasing the bands first two offerings in the near future? I hope so.
1) Les Aventures de Saxinette et Clarophone
3) La Grosse Torche
4) Galerie III
6) Les Porches de Notre-Dame