Journey – Moncton Coliseum – 07/30/15

Posted: 11th August 2015 by refrainmusic in Concerts

When I got word that I was going to be covering Journey on their most recent tour, I admit, I may have squealed at a pitch that even Steve Perry in his heyday couldn’t have hit. Memories of my second floor bedroom of my parent’s house, spinning 45’s on a record player and then on to the cassette tapes of the 80’s. High School dances spinning with a girl crush to ‘Open Arms’, summertime car rides blasting ‘Don’t Stop Believing’, Journey…live.

Moncton Portrait Commercial Music Photographer Jason Lorette Journey New Brunswick July 2015

Journey – Moncton Coliseum – 07/30/15 ~Refrain Photography

There have been many shapes to Journey over the years, many think of the band and automatically (with just cause) think of the iconic vocals of Steve Perry. But, the band that formed in San Francisco in 1973, composed of former members of Santana and Frumious Bandersnatch, it wasn’t several years later (1977) that Perry entered the picture. The early 80’s saw the band enter it’s heyday and it’s most succesful studio release, 1981’s Escape, which led to hits “Who’s Cryin’ Now”, “Don’t Stop Believin'”, and “Open Arms”. 1983’s album “Frontiers” saw the band playing to crowds of 50-80,000 seat stadiums, and rolling out four more hits in “Separate Ways”, “After The Fall”, “Send Her My Love”, and the massive “Faithfully”.

Between 1983-1995 the band went through a long period of transition, taking time off after Frontiers, a few solo projects, members of the band being fired and replaced with studio musicians (like American Idol Judge Randy Jackson on bass). Members of the band melded into other groups like Bad English which Schon and Castronovo became members of. Ironically during this time (Between 1987 and 1995) Columbia Records released three Journey compilations, including the 1988 greatest hits album, which remains the band’s best-selling record. It continues to sell 500,000 to 1,000,000 copies per year.

In 1996, the band, with the lineup from Frontiers, returned with the release of “Trial By Fire”. Although, it garnered some success, even having “When You Love A Woman” reach no. 12 on Billboard; many felt that the hiatus was too long, the magic was gone. When Perry refused to fix a health issue in order for the band to go on tour, the band decided to replace Perry. With a brief stint where they brought in a couple of other lead singers, in 2007 Neal Schon found his man…on YouTube. Arnel Pineda was in the Philippines, singing Journey cover songs in bars and Schon saw him on YouTube, contacted him (Pineda thought it was a joke at first) and the rest as they say is history. They even made a documentary (Rockumentary?) about the finding and transition to Pineda called “Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey”.

Moncton Portrait Commercial Music Photographer Jason Lorette Journey New Brunswick July 2015

Journey – Arnel Pineda & Neal Schon – Moncton Coliseum – 07/30/15 ~ Refrain Photography

We didn’t get in for the opening act (Neal Schon’s guitar laden “Vortex”), and were misdirected by security into the pit (where we weren’t supposed to be) and finally got ourselves situated as the band came out full force and greeted the Moncton crowd in the very hot Moncton Coliseum. Even though I had watched the movie documenting Schon picking him as the new singer, Pineda impressed me and by the fourth song when he sang “Open Arms” I was floored. They rolled through song after song, the heat of the band matching the heat in the building. The band was joined on the tour, filling in for long time drummer Deen Castronovo, by Omar Hakim a very accomplished talent of his own right. Hakim, not only having released several of his own albums, has played with the likes of Miles Davis, Michael Jackson, Dire Straits, Madonna, Sting, and many more.

It was interesting to hear Jonathon Cain describe sitting in the seats after a show in the early 80’s watching the crew tear down the stage, to move on to the next arena.  He described the emotions that he went through thinking of his family and how the crew must be going through the same thing…a day or two later he finished writing “Faithfully” a song all about life and love on the road while in a band.

There were many nostalgia moments on this night, ushers dancing to ballads in the aisles, many many singalongs as Pineda encouraged the crowd to join in, and streamers shot into the crowd at the end of “Don’t Stop Believin'”.

Moncton Portrait Commercial Music Photographer Jason Lorette Journey New Brunswick July 2015

Journey – Arnel Pineda & Neal Schon – Moncton Coliseum – 07/30/15 ~ Refrain Photography

Crossing this band off my list has been a long time desire, yes it wasn’t with Steve Perry, but who cares, Arnel Pineda sounds like Perry so much it’s incredible, he’s a fantastic performer and the band still entertains you after four decades. I encourage you to get out there and see this band on this tour, your won’t be disappointed!  Thanks to Journey, Evenko, and PPRL for a great musical night at the Moncton Coliseum.

Weird Al Yankovic – Casino NB – 07/25/15

Posted: 28th July 2015 by refrainmusic in Concerts

Saturday night was another packed house at Casino NB, another chance to cross an artist off my list that I’ve wanted to see since I was a teenager, and the potential of a highly entertaining evening. Getting the chance to see “Weird Al Yankovic” live is an experience I never thought I’d get to achieve. Walking in tonight was eye opening as there were a diverse bracket of ages from very young to ‘not so young’ filing in the door. Some decked out in their best ‘weird al’ outfits like orange blazers matched with lime green pants, a plethora of hawaian shirts, even saw some long curly hair.

Raised in Lynwood, California he released his first comedy song in 1976 and hasn’t looked back, he has sold more than 12 million albums, recorded more than 150 parody and original songs, and has performed more than 1,000 live shows.  Since 1985 that’s earned him four Grammy Awards and a further 11 nominations, four gold records, and six platinum records in the United States.

Moncton Portrait Commercial Music Photographer Jason Lorette  New Brunswick Canada Refrain Photography 2015 Casino NB Weird Al Yankovic

Weird Al Yankovic – Casino NB – July 25/15 ~ Refrain Photography

Yankovic’s first top ten Billboard album (Straight Outta Lynwood) and single (“White & Nerdy”) were both released in 2006, which artist Chamillionaire said made his song “Ridin'” which it parodied, even more popular. His latest album, Mandatory Fun (2014), became his first number-one album on its debut week.

This was one of the times that I’ve seen the Casino NB’s “Centre” packed the most, extra seats added and a crowd that was buzzing for the start of the show. The ‘Prince of Polka’ was coming to regale us with his witty words, accordian laden music, and comical costume changes.

In an unorthodox way (who would expect anything less from Weird Al), the lights dimmed promptly at 8pm and the large video screen at the back of the stage came to life, the band launched and there was Al, in a very ‘loud’ outfit outside the Casino with a microphone. He then proceeded to sing his way around the outside of the building, past two random cheerleaders (local dancers Jen & Gretchen), in through a side door and made his way to the stage through the same entrance as the crowd. The crowd loved it, and roared when he entered the room and made his way through the crowd to the stage.

Moncton Portrait Commercial Music Photographer Jason Lorette New Brunswick Canada Refrain Photography 2015 Casino NB Weird Al Yankovic

Weird Al Yankovic – Casino NB – July 25/15 ~ Refrain Photography

Interspersed in between almost every song were video montages on the giant screen at the back of the stage, some were new excerpts designed for this specific tour, others were clips from “AL TV” like the classic ‘interview’ with Eminem, from his guest appearances on tv shows like the Simpons, of these used to set up the coming songs.  This was designed to allow the plethora of costume changes that are required at a Weird Al show, hey where else are you going to see a guy in a fluffy purple octopus suit with a smushed ice cream cone on his head, for Born This Way, or a tall thin man in a fat suit and make-up, for “Fat” (I’ve still maazed at how bloody fast he got into that Fat suit and makeup).

Moncton Portrait Commercial Music Photographer Jason Lorette New Brunswick Canada Refrain Photography 2015 Casino NB Weird Al Yankovic

Weird Al Yankovic – Casino NB – July 25/15 ~ Refrain Photography

Yankovic was exceptionally interactive with his crowd, from the opening where he walked through the crowd to when he, dressed in his fire suit, walked through the crowd singing to the ladies and the crowd ate it up with high fives and attempted “selfies” with the entertainer.  He rolled through classic songs like “White and Nerdy”, Mr. Yankovic I mus say rides a mean Segway, doing an acoustic Mashup (complete with dimmed lighting and a puffy white shirt) of “Eat It” and Eric Clapton’s ‘Layla’, “Smells Like Nirvana” (where he was joined again by cheerleaders Jen & Gretchen on stage again),  and one of his current parodies “Word Crimes” of the hit by Robin Thicke, ‘Blurred Lines’.  One of the loudest ovations of the night was for the 1996 “Amish Paradise” which parodied the hit movie song by Coolio “Gangsters Paradise”.  It amazed me how many of the words I still knew to this song, and I wasn’t alone, there were many in the crowd that were Weird Al afficianado’s witha chorus of voices singing alone from the crowd.

After over an hour and a half of zany costume changing, hilarious video montages and lyrical mysticism, Al introduced the band and thanked Moncton for a great night, but it wasn’t to end there.

Moncton Portrait Commercial Music Photographer Jason Lorette  New Brunswick Canada Refrain Photography 2015 Casino NB Weird Al Yankovic

Weird Al Yankovic – Casino NB – July 25/15 ~ Refrain Photography

The fan base was no more evident than during the cult hit “Yoda”, set to the Kinks “Lola”, which is since 1999 the classic ending of a Weird Al show, which it was the encore tonight, complete with a Darth Vader and dancing Storm Troopers (I’ve seen it all now, dancing Storm Troopers).  This brought a roar from the crowd, a vigorous sing-a-long and thunderous applause.

Moncton Portrait Commercial Music Photographer Jason Lorette New Brunswick Canada Refrain Photography 2015 Casino NB Weird Al Yankovic

Weird Al Yankovic – Casino NB – July 25/15 ~ Refrain Photography

One of my favourite shows that I’ve seen at Casino NB came to end almost two hours after it started and I even got to briefly meet a gracious and soft spoken Al backstage and speak with him briefly, which was a wonderful and unexpected pleasure.  I’ve spoken to some who went to the show on a whim that said they were ‘shocked’ at the talent that Yankovic displays and how they were glad they chose to attend.  This is a show I very highly recommend even for the moderate fan of his work, it’s a highly entertaining show ( I mean…dancing Storm Troopers, come on!).

Thanks to Weird Al, Casino NB, and PPRL for a fantastic and entertaining night of music and laughs!


Marianas Trench – Casino NB – 07/11/15

Posted: 12th July 2015 by refrainmusic in Concerts

Such a great weekend in the Greater Moncton area, Atlantic Nationals Car Show, Friday night street party with Canadian rockers April Wine, Shediac Lobster Festival, and the first of two amazing shows at the Casino starting off with more Canadian content, Marianas Trench on Saturday night!  A beautiful and sunny Saturday evening brought out the people for an all ages show and the Casino was packed for the headliner and opening act The Bellwoods.

Toronto based band “The Bellwoods” played a roughly forty minute set of Indie-folk styled acoustic music which was pretty good but seemed a bit in contrast to what we would receive with Marianas Trench.  Although there was the contrast they warmed up the predominantly female crowd well, engaging them in crowd participation and sing-alongs.  They even got ten young ladies to join them on stage as back-up singers during one song, encouraging them to ‘silly dance’ and have fun.

Moncton Casino NB Live Marianas Trench Refrain Photography Jason Lorette Photographer Concerts Love Entertainment TheBellwoods

The Bellwoods – Casino NB – 07/11/15 ~ Refrain Photography

Next up the crowd began to buzz about the headliners, Vancouver based Marianas Trench.  Formed in 2001 and having released an EP and three full length albums (Fix Me-2006, Masterpiece Theatre-2009, Ever After-2011) with their last album being nominated for a Juno Award.  Back touring once again to promote their new release and fourth full length album “Asotoria”, they brought their music, old and some new, to a diverse group of fans at Casino NB on Saturday night.  Impressive is that the band has maintained it’s membership from the original forming for fourteen straight years now with frontman Josh Ramsay, Lead guitarist Matt Webb, Bassist Mike Ayley, and drummer Ian Cassleman.

Moncton Casino NB Live Marianas Trench Refrain Photography Jason Lorette Photographer Concerts Live Entertainment

Marianas Trench – Casino NB – 07/11/15 ~ Refrain Photography

I spoke previously of both the predominantly female and diverse crowd, I was quite surprised by it actually, ranging from literally a baby in the crowd (yes, a baby asleep in mom’s arms, don’t worry the mom remembered ear protection), to young kids in the preschool age bracket, all the way up to your average adult and a few seniors.   I also mentioned that for it being a general admission standing show (no seating on the floor, just the rear bleachers) it was packed, with well over two thousand in attendance.

Lead singer Josh Ramsay is the clear focal point of the group, flamboyant, entertaining, energetic and certainly says what comes to mind.  Not just a singer but an accomplished producer and writer, he received a grammy nomination for his production and co-writing of Carly Rae Jepsen’s massive hit “Call Me Maybe”.  He interacts with the crowd, get’s them excited and will even ‘crowd surf’ if the mood strikes him.  A first I’ve seen at the casino (as well as some of the security staff), during their hit “Stutter”, Ramsay embarked on a journey through the crowd, all the way to the back of the room to the bleachers, through the main body of the crowd, and back to the stage all the while the band playing and Ramsay singing.   After about song three, Ramsay discarded his leather jacket and hat and spent the remainder of the show shirtless much to the appreciation of the females in attendance, I could have done with out it, but hey, that’s rock and roll.  Their is a great relationship between the band and the crowd, they want to be involved in what’s going on in the room, which makes for a very entertaining show.

Moncton Casino NB Live Marianas Trench Refrain Photography Jason Lorette Photographer Concerts Live Entertainment

Josh Ramsay – Marianas Trench – Casino NB – 07/11/15 ~ Refrain Photography

I was quite surprised by this show, how entertaining, energetic and overall how much I enjoyed it from beginning to end.  I recognized far more songs than I thought I knew from Marianas Trench, and really enjoyed the songs they featured off their new release Astoria.  I was impressed by the overall vocal ability of the band who have fantastic four part harmonies for a group of their style.  I was also thoroughly shocked when the band hushed the crowd and sang a full song around one mic, acapella in great harmony.  I have to give kudos to the band’s lighting tech too as this was one of the best “lit” shows I’ve seen at the casino in a while (this matters to a photographer), bravo sir.  They entertain from start to finish and I highly recommend checking them out if you ever get the chance.

Thanks to Marianas Trench, The BellwoodsCasino NB, and PPRL for another fantastic night of music and entertainment!


The Counting Crows – Casino NB – 05/20/2015

Posted: 1st June 2015 by refrainmusic in Concerts

One of the most common musical names of the early nineties, just about everyone knew who the Counting Crows were at that time.  Today, not as well known, the venues are smaller, some members have changed, but some of the songs remain the same mixed with some new.  Most of the bands that have the longevity of more than two decades like the Counting Crows usually save some of their biggest songs, that draw fans out to the bitter end, until the last few songs or the encore.  But the Crows had a different plan, they started with some of their biggest songs, like their huge 1994 hit “Round Here” which I must admit I was surprised to here right out of the blocks.  I was even more surprised by song three which was probably their most recognizable song in “Mr Jones” from their debut album August & Everything After.

Counting Crows Concert Moncton NB Refrain Photography 2015

Counting Crows – Casino NB – 05/20/15 ~ Refrain Photography

Many 90’s act rest on the laurels of early successes but Counting Crows actually deliver something different, a little more in the present.  Singer Adam Duritz likes to elongate sections of songs I noticed, and the songs from their latest album, Somewhere Under Wonderland, fit in quite nicely.  I particularly liked one I’d not heard before a song called “Possibilty Days”, a thought provoking song with great lyrics.  There was also ventures into newer and more recognizable songs like the cover of Joni Mitchell’s hit “Paved Paradise” and “California”, both of which induced crowd sing along’s.  The music from the band was tight, well organized, and it was certainly one of the better ‘lit’ shows I’ve seen at the casino (photographers worry about these things).

Counting Crows Casino NB Moncton NB Refrain Photography 2015

Counting Crows – Casino NB – 05/20/15 ~ Refrain Photography

Courting the nostalgic only gets you so far with fans, the Counting Crows don’t appear to be chasing that particular fan base.  After 24 years together they appear to have picked up some long-term fans willing to extend them rope to experiment as a band; there were lots in the crowd of people as aware of their newer songs as they were the massive hits from back at the beginning of the almost 90 minute show.   Pulled out for a three song encore that included the hit “Rain King” the Counting Crows put on an entertaining and well rounded show from beginning to end.

Counting Crows Casino NB Moncton NB Refrain Photography Jason Lorette 2015

Counting Crows – Casino NB – 05/20/15 ~ Refrain Photography

Thanks to the Counting Crows, Casino New Brunswick, Evenko, and PPRL for another great night of music at the Casino.



The Mellotones – Tide & Boar Ballroom – 05/16/15

Posted: 20th May 2015 by refrainmusic in Concerts

This past weekend I had the opportunity to check out one of the newest live music venue’s in town, well, new in the sense that it’s now being used by someone new.  The Tide & Boar is already one of my favourite restaurant’s in town (lord the ‘boar poutine’…any that have had it, you know what I mean, the homemade ketchup is heaven).    For several years now, the T&B have had many live performances grace their ‘corner stage’ that is also a seating area when not a stage, but some bands busted that area’s seams (The Mellotones 8 members included in that list).   The popularity of the great food, wide selection of craft beer and live musical performances led to a new addition to the venue across the hall from the main restaurant.  The DUO Wine Bar & Cafe has been open for a while now, serving wine (obviously) along with locally roasted expresso and coffee, fresh baked breads and pastries in a rustic atmosphere.  The latest addition, a stroll down the solitary hallway between the Boar and the Duo, is the Tide & Boar Ballroom.  The ballroom has seem many a rowdy night as it’s life as 30 plus years  Club Cosmopolitan, and a few other variations since then.  When the ballroom became vacant I’d hoped that that the T&B would take it over as a music location for their expanding concert selection.

My first realization was that it’s a little hard to realize where the ballroom is if you don’t know where you’re going, and for someone unfamiliar you’d have to ask staff in either the DUO or T&B.   One thing that I noticed right away is that it’s very dark in the ballroom, which is great when the band is onstage performing but as you wander the room or the balcony it’s a bit disconcerting as it’s a bit hard to see.  The bar selection was a tad disappointing with such a large selection available in the two venues on the front of the building, and counting out money in the darkness (particularly on the balcony) was a bit difficult, that said, it was impressive that the bars took debit.  A great thing was that they took out the old main bar to make room for seating just off the large dance floor leaving room for the crowd to both enjoy the entertainment seated or dancing.  I loved that they’ve kept the balcony which creates a perspective for watching live music that is unique in a Moncton venue.  Overall there are a few tweaks to the atmosphere and logistics that I’d personally make to the venue, but I am so incredibly happy that it is being used by the Tide & Boar and McSweeney’s Dinner Theatre.

Mellotones Moncton Music Live Tide & Boar Ballroom Music Photography

The Mellotones – Tide & Boar Ballroom ~ Refrain Photography

The Mellotones show started promptly at 10:30 and began the first of three full sets by the band.  I’d seen a few of the members during the ECMA’s in Halifax perform with other groups but this was my first time experiencing them all together.  The eight-piece group casually stepped on to the stage with no fan fair or introduction, but the horns roared to life and their energy was infectious with the crowd.  If you can sit still while these guys are playing, I swear you don’t have a pulse.

The Mellotones - Tide & Boar Ballroom ~ Refrain Photography

The Mellotones – Tide & Boar Ballroom ~ Refrain Photography

With a superb horn section that is reminiscent of Motown, they rolled through set after set of fantastic R&B, funk, and soul hits that had the crowd on their feet the whole time dancing, singing and bopping to the great music.  This multi talented group led by lead singer and saxophonist, Jeff Mosher, is joined by a superb horn section featuring Jody Lyne on trumpet, Eric Landry with the trombone and Sean Weber playing lead saxophone and EWI.  The band’s rhythm stays in line with Brad Conrad on guitars, Ian Mosher on keyboards, Mike Farrington Jr. on bass and Damien Moynihan on drums.

The Mellotones - Tide & Boar Ballroom ~ Refrain Photography

The Mellotones – Tide & Boar Ballroom ~ Refrain Photography

An amazing night of music, dancing, and live entertainment the Mellotones do not disappoint in any way shape or form.  I highly recommend getting out to see this band the next time they roll into town, and hopefully it’s at the fantastic Tide & Boar Ballroom, don’t hesitate to check out both, or go for the full monty, have a great meal at the Tide & Boar, an after dinner glass of wine at DUO, and a great show in the new Tide & Boar Ballroom.  Thanks to the Ballroom and The Mellotones for a a great night! :)

The Mellotones - Tide & Boar Ballroom ~ Refrain Photography

The Mellotones – Tide & Boar Ballroom ~ Refrain Photography


AC/DC Announced For Magnetic Hill Labor Day Weekend 2015!

Posted: 11th February 2015 by refrainmusic in Concerts

Details on the “Concert Listings Page“!! Check it out!!

The Trews – Casino NB – 01/30/2015

Posted: 2nd February 2015 by refrainmusic in Concerts

   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.

The Trews - Casino NB - 01/30/2015 ~ Refrain Photography

The Trews – Casino NB – 01/30/2015 ~ Refrain Photography

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.

John-Angus MacDonald -The Trews - Casino NB - 01/30/2015 ~ Refrain Photography

John-Angus MacDonald -The Trews – Casino NB – 01/30/2015 ~ Refrain Photography

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.

Colin MacDonald - The Trews - Casino NB - 01/30/2015 ~ Refrain Photography

Colin MacDonald – The Trews – Casino NB – 01/30/2015 ~ Refrain Photography

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!

The Tea Party – Casino NB – 11/21/14

Posted: 3rd December 2014 by refrainmusic in Concerts

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).

Serena Pryne - The Mandevilles - Casino NB ~ Refrain Photography

Serena Pryne – The Mandevilles – Casino NB ~ Refrain Photography

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

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.

Jeff Martin - The Tea Party - Casino NB

Jeff Martin – The Tea Party – Casino NB

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!

Cheap Trick – Live at Casino NB – 08/23/14

Posted: 24th August 2014 by refrainmusic in Concerts

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.

Cheap Trick - Casino NB - 08/23/14 ~ Refrain Photography

Cheap Trick – Casino NB – 08/23/14 ~ Refrain Photography

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.

Cheap Trick - Casino NB - 08/23/14 ~ Refrain Photography

Cheap Trick – Casino NB – 08/23/14 ~ Refrain Photography

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.

Cheap Trick - Casino NB - 08/23/14 ~ Refrain Photography

Cheap Trick – Casino NB – 08/23/14 ~ Refrain Photography

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.

A wonderful night of music and I want to thank the guys of Cheap Trick, Casino NB, and PPRL for making it all happen.

Tommy Emmanuel – Capitol Theatre – 05/30/14

Posted: 12th May 2014 by refrainmusic in Concerts

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

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.

Tommy Emmanuel - Capitol Theatre - 05/30/2014 ~ Refrain Photography

Tommy Emmanuel – Capitol Theatre – 05/30/2014 ~ Refrain Photography

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!