The Hamilton based husband and wife duo Luke Doucet and Melissa McClelland, better known as Whitehorse, are known for their passionate performances on stage, and it was no different on Tuesday night at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa.

The band had brought in Winnipeg’s sensational talent Begonia as the opening act, the newest musical project of Alexa Dirks, known from the Juno award winning group Chic Gamine.

Her half an hour performance was intimate and soulful, Dirks’ voice soft yet powerful, only combined with the keyboard and tambourine. She bantered in between songs, making the audience belly laugh at her stories with segways to her songs. Her lyrics poetic and personal, with a hint of dark humor about the meaning of being a woman, lonely walks to the hot dog stand, and even the one and only happy love song. The singer made the audience fall in love with her over and over and received a standing ovation at the end of her short set.

Begonia at NAC. Photo by Laura Collins.

Whitehorse started their set with a bang with Baby What’s Wrong, Nighthawks and one of their biggest hits, Sweet Disaster. Doucet and McClelland’s voices bound harmoniously together and Doucet’s White Falcon creates Tarantino-esque soundscapes that combines psychedelic surf with blues tones, folk and rocknroll.

Whitehorse at NAC. Photo by Laura Collins.

The band delivered several political and meaningful messages during their set, from ‘Boys Like You’ dedicated to all the Harvey Weinstein’s of the world, to the protest song ‘All That you Are Fighting for’ and ‘Evangelina’ dedicated to Terri Jean Bedford, a retired sex worker who challenged Canada’s prostitution laws all the way at Supreme Court of Canada, ‘Kicking Down Your Door‘ written in the middle of the Syrian refugee crisis and Trump election, and also delivered ‘Un Canadien Errant’, originally written in 1842 by Antoine Gérin-Lajoie after the Lower Canada Rebellion .

Whitehorse at NAC. Photo by Laura Collins.

The NAC has amazing acoustics for bands like Whitehorse at its theatres, but this set would have most definitely required some dancing and sitting still was challenging. The most interesting rendition of the evening was Chuck Berry cover ‘Nadine’ dedicated to Doucet’s father who had lived the life in New Orleans as a blues guitarist and was sitting in the NAC audience on Tuesday night. The band delivered a less bluesy, funkier version of the legendary tune and packed theatre was loving it.

Whitehorse at NAC. Photo by Laura Collins.

‘Downtown‘ finished the regular set, before the band came back on stage for the encore performing ‘Pink Kimono’ from their latest album, and left the audience with Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young cover ‘Ohio’.

Whitehorse has once again proven they are aging like a fine wine, only getting better year by year. The rest of Whitehorse’s Canadian tour dates can be found here.

  1. Baby What’s Wrong
  2. Nighthawks
  3. Sweet Disaster
  4. Emerald Isle
  5. Achilles
  6. Desire
  7. Manitoba Death Star
  8. Boys Like You
  9. All That You’re Fighting For
Un Canadien errant
  11. Die Alone
  13. Nadine (Chuck Berry cover)
  14. Kicking Down Your Door
  15. Devil’s Got a Gun
  16. Pink Kimono
  17. Downtown


  1. Tame as the Wild Ones
  2. Ohio (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young cover)


By Laura Collins

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