Your guide to must-see Montréal concerts in 2020
Live music lovers are in for a head-spinning array of concert options this year as some of the biggest names in music, both locally and internationally, get ready to grace Montréal’s many amazing stages. From Korn to Céline Dion, Tame Impala, Ozzy Osbourne, Post Malone, Marie-Mai, Harry Styles, The Lumineers and more, the following is a rundown of the top, must-see concerts in 2020 (so far).
Montrealers’ deep-rooted adoration for pioneering U.K. prog rockers Genesis even extends to the bands that pay tribute to them as well, and there is perhaps no Genesis tribute band greater than Montréal’s very own The Musical Box. It’s always a big deal when The Musical Box lifts the lid on its magic, as it will two days in a row, January 4 and 5, at Théâtre Maisonneuve, in the Place des Arts complex in the Quartier des spectacles, the city’s crown jewel for the performing arts.
Banish those January blahs with a joyful and uplifting mix of gospel, classical, jazz, Broadway and spirituals at the Montréal stop of the “We Shall Overcome: A Celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.” tour. Presented by multi-instrumentalist and producer Damien Sneed (who has worked with Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder and Diana Ross, among others), the nine-piece ensemble will honour African American music traditions, interwoven with spoken word from Dr. King’s speeches, at Théâtre Maisonneuve in Place des Arts, January 16.
Californian nu-metal icons Korn are teaming up with multi-platinum Pennsylvanian hard rockers Breaking Benjamin for a co-headlining winter tour. British rock trio Bones U.K. will open when the tour pulls into the Bell Centre, home of the Montréal Canadiens, January 28.
The year 2020 will mark 10 years since the passing of singer/songwriter Kate McGarrigle, mother of well-known musicians Rufus and Martha Wainwright. On February 5, Montréal’s royal family of music will pull together for a tribute to Kate titled Complainte pour Catherine at Théâtre Maisonneuve, featuring performances by Rufus, Martha, Anna McGarrigle, Jane McGarrigle and many more.
Rapper, singer, songwriter and musical genre mix-master Post Malone brings his Runaway Tour, in support of his recently released third album Hollywood’s Bleeding, to the Bell Centre, February 16. Opening are singer/rappers Swae Lee and Tyla Yahweh.
Céline Dion’s 55-date Courage World Tour — her first world tour in over a decade, and 14th concert tour overall — in support of her new English-language album, Courage, finds her returning to the Bell Centre, February 18 and 19, after six sold-out shows in September and October.
Denver folk-rock phenomenon The Lumineers return to Montréal in support of their just-released, and appropriately titled third album, III. The tour — their first without vocalist/cellist Neyla Pekarek, who left the band last year to pursue a solo career — stops at the Bell Centre on March 6, with indie rockers Mt. Joy and Kenyan singer/songwriter J.S. Ondara opening.
Chart-topping, multi-award-winning Brit-pop stars Keane bring their Cause and Effect Tour, in support of their recently released fifth album of the same name, to MTELUS on March 24. The album and tour mark the band’s long-awaited return after a nearly six-year hiatus.
Hometown indie rock heroes Half Moon Run, formed in the same Montréal neighbourhood, Mile End, that produced iconic indie bands like Arcade Fire, Wolf Parade and Godspeed You! Black Emperor, will play songs off their third and most recent album, A Blemish in the Great Light, at the Olympia theatre on April 22 and 23.
Finnish symphonic metal band Apocalyptica (originally a Metallica classical tribute band, and composed of three cellists, a drummer and a vocalist) will release its ninth album in January 2020, Cell-O, their first instrumental album in 17 years. The album tour, which comes to MTELUS on May 23, also features an opening performance by Italian goth metal group Lacuna Coil.
Hugely popular Australian psych-rock outfit Tame Impala returns to Montréal with a new album, The Slow Rush (which will be released in February 2020), at the Bell Centre on June 3. Seattle indie-pop artist Perfume Genius will handle the show-opening duties.
Promises, promises… Black Sabbath legend Ozzy Osbourne is “celebrating five decades of the Prince of Darkness” with his No More Tours 2 (the first No More Tours tour was in 1992). And just to make it extra dark, inimitable industrial metallist Marilyn Manson will open. It all goes down at the Bell Centre, June 16.
From Marilyn Manson to irrepressible pop star Marie-Mai — one of the biggest names in music in Québec — who brings her ultra-successful and ongoing Elle et Moi tour back to the Bell Centre on June 19 after already playing three shows there in February 2019.
Love on tour, indeed. Charismatic former One Direction boy band member Harry Styles is no stranger to feeling the love from his legion of fans, which will no doubt be the case when the British pop star’s Love On Tour comes to the Bell Centre on June 30. Former Rilo Kiley lead singer Jenny Lewis will open.
Contemporary Christian pop music star Lauren Daigle brings her third and latest album, Look Up Child (winner of Best Contemporary Christian Music Album at the 2019 Grammy Awards), to the Bell Centre on July 3. Folk/soul/blues duo Johnnyswim will open the show.
The Festival International de Jazz de Montréal isn’t wasting any time bringing out the big guns, pairing up two heavy-hitting, Grammy-Award-winning soul singers, Joss Stone and Macy Gray, for what will doubtless be an unforgettable double-header at Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier, Place des Arts, July 4. The 41st edition of the fest takes place June 25 to July 4.
We’re not horsing around when we say that Montréal’s got a big new festival in Parc Jean-Drapeau (already the site of Osheaga, îleSoniq Montréal and more) this summer. Say a big “Howdy!” to LASSO, the city’s first large-scale country music festival, taking place August 14 and 15. And while the full lineup had not yet been released at the time of writing, country music superstar Luke Bryan has been confirmed as one of the festival’s headliners.
Jamie O’Meara, blogger
Jamie O’Meara is a writer for The Montreal Gazette, C2 Montréal, Moment Factory and more. He also manages the PR Team at the Just For Laughs Comedy Festival and is the former Editor-in-Chief of alt-weekly newspaper HOUR Magazine.