Montaigne Live review Black Bear Lodge

Live Review: Montaigne at Black Bear Lodge


Review by Meredith McLean

Photos by Dan Etiel

Bear Family got to spend some quality time with Montaigne this week. We’re not talking about the philosopher, although she does mention him in her biography. We’re talking about Montaigne otherwise known as Jess Cerro. If that name rings a bell you might remember her as a 2012 finalist in Triple J’s Unearthed High. After taking the time to refine and hone the gift she’s been given with her voice, she now comes to us smiling brightly and singing even brighter.

But before we get to hear Montaigne there were a couple of support acts,with Yoste and Sophie Lowe getting the audience warmed up for the main act. Yoste’s ambient electronica and gentle vocals were as warming as the Brisbane summer creeping in through the streets. At one stage he said, “This is a new one,” then paused and chuckled. He explained, “Well, it’s all new to you guys but this is a new one to me and that’s what makes it special.” Black Bear Lodge are big advocates of exposing up and coming artists and Yoste’s easy-going attitude is exactly what the spirit of the venue is all about.

Montaigne herself has made great strides in the past two years since she was first discovered. She flies somewhere on the radar around Sia and Amanda Palmer – sassy, cheeky lyrics with whimsical melodies and a plethora of instrumental diversity. From melodicas to miniature pianos, her tunes are still young and playful with plenty of pop sensibility. Her song I’m a Fantastic Wreck in particular strikes a chord with fans of Amanda Palmer circa 2004.

One of the many beautiful things about Montaigne is that she is at the beginning of a journey. She still has the refreshingly hopeful attitude of someone who wants to tell you what her song is about and wants to shake your hand when you buy her CD. In a scoop direct from the source, Montaigne confides she is officially beginning the recording of her debut album at the end of the month. It was hard to tell who was more excited, Montaigne or the cheering crowd. I Am Not An End packs punchy samples and upbeat chorus lines while Clip My Wings runs fast and wild. It easily earns its keep as the title track for the tour.  

Her cover of Sia’s Chandelier seems to hold it self back for as long as physically possible until that fantastic voice finally escapes in a incredibly soul-drenched loud burst. At this point we should introduce the band or the “Mon-team” as Montaigne describes them. Niall Anderson handled everything ‘keys’,from full-scale synths to teeny tiny miniature pianos. Gus Gardiner rocked the bass as well as the occasional melodica and Miles Thomas was out of control on the drums. Smashing things and letting cymbals fly, whether this was orchestrated for effect or not it was fantastic to watch.
The Clip My Wings Tour continues on northward bound. But you can always listen to her EP Life of Montaigne if you missed out or keep your ear close to the wireless as Triple J will be keeping us up to date with Montaigne’s adventures for sure.


Alistair is the founder of Bear Family. Alistair resides in Sydney and can be found wandering the streets searching for bargains and peppermint tea. Come and say Hi, he's nice.

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