Details on the “Concert Listings Page“!! Check it out!!
Friday night at Casino NB saw Canadian rockers “The Trews” roll onto the stage to a full house of avid fans on a very, very cold January weekend. Another winter storm on the horizon didn’t keep fans away from what would prove to be another great night of rock music at The Centre. Starting right on time the band, introduced by fellow Nova Scotian Mandy MacDonald from the C103 morning show, took the stage to a raucous ovation from the crowd.
From Antigonish, NS the band entered a contest that is held annually by a St. Catharines rock radio station. Winning the contest would be their big break as they soon landed a recording contract. The release of their first full-length CD soon followed in 2003, produced by Big Sugar’s Gordie Johnson, the album contained their hit singles “Not Ready to Go”, and “Tired of Waiting”. “Not Ready to Go” hit number one on Canadian rock radio and the band was nominated as New Group of the Year at the 2004 Juno Awards and “Not Ready to Go” was nominated as Single of the Year in 2005. The Album, House Of Ill Fame, has been certified gold in Canada.
The brothers MacDonald, lead singer and rythm guitarist Colin and lead guitarist John-Angus lead the band through great songs Like “Hope & Ruin”, “Highway of Heroes”, and the more obscure “Oblivion” which Colin said was inspired by their opportunity to open for Bruce Springsteen a few years back on Magnetic Hill, one of many reasons they had an affection for Moncton, and why they were starting their trip and performing their first show of the year here.
Complete with both drum and guitar solos the band rocked the crowd for an hour and a half before bidding the crowd farewell only to be pulled back to a three song encore with a sing along of maritime favourite “Ishmael and Maggie”, and a crowd favourite “I’m Not Ready To Go”, and after one final song they said their goodbyes and left a happy crowd going out into the cold night air.
If you haven’t had the opportunity to see this great Canadian band I highly recommend that you do so, you won’t be disappointed. Thanks to The Trews, Casino NB, and PPRL for another great night of awesome music!
Friday night at Casino NB was one that brought me back in time, a couple decades it’s kind of scary to say, to a very loud (one of the loudest I’d been too) bar show featuring Canadian rock Trio, The Tea Party. I really like these general admission shows that the crowd on the floor isn’t seated, that they stand and have the bleachers in the back for those that want to sit.
Tonight the opening act was Niagra Falls band “The Mandevilles” whom I’d only heard one song about on YouTube previously and enjoyed (Hangovers).
The lead singer Serena Pryne has a voice like serated silk that belts out songs with a liquid ferocity that reminds me of a young Melissa Etheridge, her stage presence that of a rocking Sass Jordan. She enjoys the music she is performing, and well she should, it’s fantastic. The band members behind her are tight and in sync with their singer, rocking in perfect rythm, throwing in well timed harmonies as needed. I urge you to check them out and pick up their self-titled CD (which I did at the show) as it is fantastic and will be a subject of a future review here on refrainmusic.com
At their prime in the 1990s and up until 2005, the band re-formed in 2011. The Tea Party released eight albums on EMI Music Canada, selling 1.6 million records worldwide, and achieving a No. 1 Canadian single “Heaven Coming Down” in 1999.
The band was rock solid (sorry, bad pun) all night, they never missed a beat, with thier classic material or their new stuff off their newly released album “The Ocean At The End” that this current tour is the back beat of. As the bands played the crowd seemed to swell in numbers, the group circling the stage swelling back almost to the soundboard and bleachers at the back of the room. Singer Jeff Martin asked the crowds merchy at one point, saying that he now lives in the warmth of Australia and almost the instant he stepped off the plane in Toronto he had a head cold, so be kind. Even referencing the fact that he never thought he’d be on stage with the Tea Party…actually drinking tea!
The band rolled through songs like “The River” and a fantastic version of “Sister Awake ” and the crowd ate it up. They ended the show on a high note, but the crowd wasn’t done with them yet, pulling them out for encores and absorbing everything that that the Tea Party had to throw at them, getting the crowd to sing the chorus of one of their most popular songs in “Temptation”.
A great night was had by all at this show, many telling me it was one of their favorites in recent memory, both with having an awesome opening act and a well rounded headliner. Thanks to The Mandevilles, The Tea Party, Casino NB, and PPRL for having me in for a great night of music yet again!
Many rock acts while touring play the same songs in the same order night after night, of course there that is perfectly normal and there is nothing wrong with that, the audience knows what to expect. Cheap Trick, appearing live at The Centre at Casino NB tonight rarely followed the rules over the years, having some nights I’ve heard, played entire albums as their show list for the night, one whole album and that was it. Having spotted the set list at the sound board I knew that was not to be the case tonight, but there were some hidden gems mixed in with their bigger more well known hits.
As Nielsen’s chords blasted out to open the night with “Hello There,” followed up from their debut album by “Ello Kiddies” lead singer/guitarist Robin Zander, dressed in all black, stepped forward to the centre mic and launched us into a night of great rock music. Playing songs that spanned the last 35 plus years of music, formed way back in 1973 in Rockford, Illinois, and with three out of the four original members (original drummer Bun E. Carlos being replaced currently by guitarist Rick Neilson’s son Daxx)…they are still a rocking good time.
The vocals of Robin Zander have not lost much over the years and for a guy just into his sixties, it’s pretty impressive that he can still hit notes that he was singing in his twenties. While some of the vocals seemed to be a bit of a reach times, overall I was very impressed by his ability to perform the songs as we know them.
Rick Neilsen hasn’t changed in all the years of playing, with his antics on stage and his constant guitar changes with every different song. His penchant for throwing guitar picks to the crowd hasn’t stopped either, byt the end of the night throwing them out by the handful. Neilson, who you would never know turns 68 this year, with his hopping around the stage and fitful energy (he never seemed to stop moving, ever) was a lightning rod the whole night and is the energy of this band.
Tom Petersen kept the bass flowing through the night, while chipping in with background vocals, on a gorgeous 12-string Gretsch bass that was a snazzy white, even gracing us with a solo while the rest of the band took a break at one point. Great songs flowed from the band all night long, including their song which was the theme song for the hit TV show, “That 70’s Show”. Of course they played their only number one single, “The Flame” along with classic, “I Want You To Want Me” that has graced classic rock radio for decades.
After a rousing “Dream Police,” to end the regular set, the crowd had no problem in demanding an encore, which consisted of three songs, one being “Surrender” a big hit for the band and also “Goodnight” for which Rick Nielsen broke out his 5 neck guitar for the night’s closer.
It’s obvious 35 years removed from Cheap Trick’s performance at Budokan, that Rick Nielsen can still clown around, throw out guitar picks (which he did by the handful tonight), play a collection of outrageous guitars and make it look easy, even if it isn’t. Petersson can smile and deliver scorching bass lines on his beautiful white Gretsch 12-string bass and Zander can lead them through it all. It’s damn near impossible to not get into a Cheap Trick concert.
Having missed the show last year at the Capitol I was going to make sure that I would not miss this year a guitarist that has been named one of the greatest players of all time. There was a buzz in the room prior to the show like we were about to see something special, the crowd ranged from young to, not so young (don’t like saying old). As I took my seat in my private little box (thank-you Spank The Plank Productions) I was made aware that Tommy would be having an opening act. What an opening act it was, Vinny Raniolo & Frank Vignola blew the crowd up with their manic guitar playing, humor, and if this was any indication of the show ahead we were in for a treat. Frank even spotted me at one point, stopped the song half way through, told Vinny to pose (he wasn’t really sure where to look so just posed), I snapped the picture, and they picked up in the song right where they left off…the crowd loved it. The vibrance with which these two New Yorkers played was incredible, they electrified the crowd from the get go…their short set was almost not enough…definitely leaving us wanting more.
Vinny Raniolo & Frank Vignola – Capitol Theatre – 05/30/2014 ~ Refrain Photography
Never having heard of this Emmanuel prior to last years show at the Capitol (which as I said, I unfortunately missed), I wasn’t sure what to think beforehand, having watched a plethora of YouTube videos but certainly never expected this stratospheric level of musical manipulation. My God what this man can do with six strings and ten fingers!! The musical virtuosity that Tommy displays in song after song caused, I saw, many a jaw dropping moment. I was astounded with his percussiveness on the body of his guitar mixed with the playing that those magical fingers performed on the strings.
Emmanuel was a child prodigy and by the age of six he was already working as a professional musician. His music and life are legendary in his native Australia, where he is a household name. He has recorded and performed with countless well known artists including : Air Supply, Men at Work, Chet Atkins, Les Paul, Keith Urban, Eric Clapton (who has said that “he is the best guitarist I have ever seen”), and many, many more.
He rolled through many songs including playing one of his new songs “Blood Brother” off his latest album which was beautifully mysterious. He also played old favourites “Angelina” which he told us was written for his youngest daughter. He also shared with us notes about his family and growing up one of six kids. Every once in a while you detected a familiar melody and I myself found myself closing my eyes as a beautiful rendition of “Somewhere over the Rainbow” elaborately excaped tommy’s guitar, after which he received yet another of many standing ovations.
Charismatic in his delivery, rocking us with rousing versions of songs like “Guitar Boogie”, and magical with his playing, the very appreciative crowd ate up every note that was thrown at them. Tommy was joined at the end of the show once again by openers Frank and Vinny to have a three man jam on stage that was just mind blowing. I highly encourage you to get out to see these guys play if they are in your area as you will not be disappointed.
Thanks to Frank & Vinnie, Tommie Emmanuel, and Spank The Plank for a wonderful show!
It was obvious to me why the Backstreet Boys have been around for 21 years, not only their brand of music that has graced dance floors world wide for two decades, and a performance show that is high energy and interactive, but a dedicated and rabid fan base. The Backstreet Boys have sold over 130 million records worldwide, thus making them the best selling boy band in history, and one of the world’s best selling musical artists. They are one of a small group to have their first nine albums reach the top 10 on the Billboard 200 and the only boy band to accomplish this. This night, they launch their 2014 North American “In A World Like This” Tour, at the Moncton Coliseum.
The line-up outside the Coliseum was staggering upon arrival, dominated not surprisingly by the female gender, as thousands of fans awaited entry as a technical glitch delayed the start time (hey it is the first show of the NA tour after all). As I referred to earlier, their staying power has a lot to do with their fan base, which as I noted watching the crowd enter the building ranged from individuals from ages of about 10-50, again, predominately female. One fan I spoke with who was in the ‘gold circle’ on the floor, this was her 17th time seeing BSB, the following night in Halifax would be her 18th.
The ‘steamy’ arena was buzzing in anticipation of the guys arriving on the stage, the full house on the edge of their seats, ready to scream for the next two hours (which they certainly did). As the lights dimmed and the group took to the stage I was very thankful to have found my misplaced ear plugs just before the show…it was loud! Not only was the music loud but so was the 5000 plus ladies screaming at the top of their lungs surrounding me (when I took my camera to the office after our allowed three song shooting I ran into one couple that were actually leaving because of the volume). A very simple and effective stage surrounded the group, emblazoned with LED’s that burst colour on their baby blue suits (one of many outfits on the night) and the group danced up a storm to the delight of the crowd. Although these ‘boys’ are in their early 30’s to early 40’s they still move as much and as well as they ever did. The only part of the stage that I disliked were the position of the speaker stacks hanging from the ceiling, they seriously impeded half of the top of the top two risers of the stage where the group spent a lot of time throughout the show if you were in the seats of the bowl.
A few songs in, group member AJ Maclean took to the stage alone to ask the crowd for a brief moment of silence for their long time head of security Johnny “Q” Elgani who had recently passed, which the crowd respected as Maclean held a raised fist to the sky. Another reason this group has had the staying power of no other boy band is their love of their crowds, their interactivity with their crowds. They noted that Canada had a special place in their hearts because, even though they were formed in Orlando, they ‘made it’ in Europe and Canada long before they were heavily on the radar in the US.
An hour into the show, the band broke it down bringing out the acoustic guitars, box drums, and keyboards to ‘play’ some songs for the fanatical crowd. They noted that the crowd was likely thinking “what are the backstreet boys doing with instruments”? They called it insurance for 30-40 years from now when they can’t dance anymore, unless it was a latin flavoured song for which group member Howie did a dance for the crowd. Much to the delight of the ladies. They play a few older songs acoustically, and very well, it was obvious that playing instruments is something they have done for a long time and well. They also played a new song called “Madelaine” off their latest, and 8th studio album. They told stories, and there was a brief video about them shown on the three large video screens and when they returned to the stage they sang another new song from the latest album and the title of the tour, “In A World Like This” which I personally enjoyed quite a bit. During the song AJ, walked around in the crowd while he sang joining the other members on stage near the end of the song. One interesting highlight was when they asked the crowd to turn the flashlights of their cell phones on during a song, like thousands of firefly’s they danced around they entire arena. Their interactivity stretched even further and members would pose for cell phone pics as they sang, member Brian Litrell even getting right down on his stomach on stage to be part of a ‘selfie’ with a group of girls, all while continuing to sing. (It should be noted that I as a viewer of many, many shows appreciate performers who do things like this and realize why they are here, the fans, don’t just come out and play and leave)
After almost two solid hours of music, the band bid farewell to the excited and screaming fans, to be pulled back for a two song encore of “Backstreet’s Back”, and “Larger Than Life”. In a show I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, the BSB’s entertained, made me laugh, played fun songs that took me back, interacted and performed…sounds like a perfect show to me. Backstreet’s Back…in North America for the summer of 2014, and I highly encourage you to take in this show, definitely a good one.
Bryan Adams – Bare Bones Tour- Moncton Coliseum – 04/30/14 ~ Refrain Photography
The first time I saw Bryan Adams I was still buying music on 45’s with my allowance, his Cuts Like A Knife album was barely out, and hardly anyone knew who he was. The next couple of times I saw him he was singing about “The Summer of 69″, being in “Heaven”, and asking someone to “Please Forgive Me”. Almost thirty years after the first time I saw him perform was a chance to watch him sing the songs stripped down to their ‘bare bones’, acoustically performed, like Adams says “sung like they were written”.
Adams is a singer-songwriter, musician, producer, actor, and photographer (and a damn good one). He’s one of the world’s best selling artists of all time and the best-selling Canadian rock artist of all time, he is a staple on rock radio and has written/performed some of the most popular and recognizable songs of all time.
The show itself started with Adams stepping on stage (about 20 minutes past the scheduled start) with no introduction, not that one is really needed, with a top hat (to mimic the logo above) and a guitar. With a salute to the crowd and a bow, setting his hat at his feet, he launched into “Run To You”. The crowd was into the show from the get go, with Adams being very interactive, taking ‘request’s from the crowd and playing them on the spot. He was accompanied by only one other musician “Gary” on the piano, the appreciative crowd at one point breaking into a chant of “Gary, Gary” after one vigorous session of piano playing.
While some bands/singers over a 30+ year music career start to lose their joy for performing, Adams has obviously not, chatting with the crowd, cracking spontaneous jokes, and really getting into the show. Another thing that can wither over time is vocal ability, and Adams who’s now in his mid-50’s has not lost a step at all. His vocals were bang on and strong, which was evident in this exposed show not being hidden behind electric guitars and heavy rock drums. When given the chance, the crowd joined in, word for word on many songs becoming part of the show. Including one member of the crowd chosen to ‘dance’ in the aisles during a bluesy number and the crowd loved it. People would call out from the seats, and Adams would answer, he was definitely there to perform, interact, and entertain.
Adams played for a solid 90 minutes, never breaking, interacting with the crowd…even speaking to the crowd in exceptionally fluent French. He played a request from one lady in the second row saying to her “didn’t you ask for that on my Twitter today?”, which she had, launching into the beautiful song “Flying”. It was interesting to hear some songs broken down, skilfully played on an acoustic guitar and piano, with strong vocals, and the crowd as a back up singer.
Arguably one of the best shows I’ve seen in quite a while, with multiple standing ovations and after his 90 minute main set Adams (and Gary), raised their top hats and left the stage. But there was no way the crowd was letting them get away that easy, Adams returning after being beckoned by the the crowd for more to play an unheard of five song encore. It culminated with a final song that Adams wrote when he was 18 years old and his first US top ten, “Straight From The Heart”
An immensely enjoyable night of music that I encourage anyone to get out and see if they have a chance, go see this show, you won’t be disappointed! Thanks to Adams, Evenko, and PPRL (oh, and Gary) for another fantastic night of music in the city!
Celebrating their fourth decade as a group, still playing music that was heard from the decade I was born in, I was looking forward to crossing off another classic rock band from my concert bucket list tonight at Casino NB. In the last 40 years, the band was a regular on rock charts throughout the ’70s and ’80s, playing to sold-out arenas and stadiums throughout the world. I don’t know too many people that haven’t heard “Dust In The Wind” or “Carry On My Wayward Son” and with their musical presence in many movies and tv shows over the years (most recently in TV hit show Supernatural, that touts a lot of 70’s and 80’s classic rock in their soundtrack) they’ve maintained a presence throughout the decades.
Due to some technical difficulties, the show started a bit later than scheduled by about 30 minutes. The crowd which was smaller than I expected for such stalwarts of classic rock radio, was patient and appreciative once the band hit the stage. Backdropped by their very first album cover the band launched into a two song medley and then right into the song “The Wall”. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to accumulate very many pictures from this show as the lighting on the band was absolutely horrendous, which is not typical at all of a Casino show, but it was extremely frustrating from a photography point of view. Even as a viewer sitting in my seat I found the lighting flow very dim and the members of the band really poorly lit.
The band also had an interesting feature to their show that they had no merchandise for sale at the show, they gave you a ‘text number’ to snap a pic of the band with your smart phone and send it off to this number where you would get a link to their merchandise shop sent back and be entered for a chance to win a contest (this would have been great if it worked, I never received the text back and tried twice).
Musically the band was tight and it was evident that 40 years of playing music has honed their skill as musicians to a sharp point. Their 13 song main set danced along musically with progressive rock flair, highlighted at the midway point by hit song, “Dust In the Wind” which had the crowd singing along. Vocally the band has lost a bit of it’s flair, obvious strain pressing to reach some of the higher notes in some of the songs and it hindered the performance for me slightly.
After about an hour and a half they brought their main set to an end, but were enthusiastically called back out by the remaining crowd, to play a two song encore of “Fight Fire With Fire” and of course “Carry On My Wayward Son” which the crowd excitedly sang along with. Overall a good show, coupled with some great musicianship (highlight was Phil Eharts drumming for me), I got to cast another classic rock band off the bucket list and hum off into the night with ‘Wayward Son’ still ringing in my ears.
Thanks to Kansas, Casino NB, and PPR for another great night of music.
A single guy, Valentine’s Day, and a Foreigner concert…not sure I thought this one through…but I wasn’t going to miss it. This is the third time I’ve seen Foreigner in their various incarnations live and I was soon to be very pleased with this nights result.
Foreigner is a British-American rock band, originally formed in 1976 by veteran English musician Mick Jones and fellow Briton, Ian McDonald along with American vocalist Lou Gramm, none who were with the band that was presented to us tonight. Their biggest hit single, “I Want To Know What Love Is, topped the UK and US Charts among others. They are one of the worlds best selling acts of all time with worldwide sales of nearly 80 million albums.
The fact that long time members absence (Mick only does selective shows with them now) wasn’t wasn’t bothering this heavily laden couple crowd tonight. Foreigner’s lead singer, Kelly Hansen, has grown into being the voice of Foreigner, a spot held now for eight years. The perfect and appropriate dollop of rock swagger, fan interaction and enthusiasm in his role. His voice, although uniquely his own, nailed the vocals of the Foreigner song book. During one song, while the band played away, Hansen even ventured into the audience, high fiving anyone within reach. Somehow, the masses allowed him to return to the stage.
Likewise, bass player Jeff Pilson, a Foreigner mainstay for nine years, brought his 1980’s heavy metal credentials (he was a founding member of Dokken) to the group. Other than when necessary to be at a mic delivering a solid backing vocal, Pilson rarely stayed in one place on stage.
Long time Foreigner journeyman, Tom Gimbel, continuously switched it up by playing a multitude of instruments, rhythm guitar, keyboards and a scorching saxophone. With the core of Gimbel, Pilson and Hansen, along with drummer Chris Frazier, keyboard player Michael Bluestein and guitarist Bruce Watson, listening to Foreigner’s set, it was hard to believe that Foreigner is sometimes considered a soft rock band.
The hard edge of the group was evident from the start as the enthusiastic crowd warmly greeted Hansen and company a Hansen rarely stood still, running to both ends of the stage to engage the audience. The energy continued with “Blue Morning” and “Cold As Ice.”
After things slowed a bit with “Waiting For A Girl Like You,” Hansen made sure that the audience was once again pumped up when he asked “how many naughty girls in the house?” The answer was that there were certainly plenty who enjoyed “Dirty White Boy,” (along with some generously donated ladies under garments, it’s a rock show now baby!) an already rocking Foreigner, rocked even more. Also, drawing from their acoustic album, the band did a nice unplugged version of “Say You Will.”
As many of the band members took a break, Bluestein got a moment to shine with a keyboard solo and Frazier pounded out a well-received drum solo. Then Hansen returned to the stage and quietly began singing about man who was standing in the rain, head hung low…the crowd roared back to life and “Jukebox Hero” was blasting into the night.
With and already rocking night of music in the books, the crowd wanted more and Foreigner delivered with a three song encore that started with “Inside Looking Outside”. In a previously anticipated moment, members of Moncton High Glee Club were led onto the stage and accompanied the band during “I Want to Know What Love Is.” Foreigner completed the night with “Hot Blooded.”
On this Friday night, Foreigner again proved with Hansen, they are a still a solid band that plays hit after hit. I seriously encourage you, if you like a great rock show…to take in a Foreigner show near you today! Thanks to Casino NB, PPRL, and Foreigner for a fantastic night of music!