Review: Queen Elizabeth Theatre, Toronto, ON, Mar. 23/12

By Jane Flood – Exclusive to the Trews Fans Network

Friday, March 23rd’s concert in Toronto with Poor Young Things opening for The Trews was a first – my first concert in almost two years and first time  seeing any of these guys. Since we were in town early, having come from Kingston by way of Barrie the day before, we decided we had time to check out some of the Canadian Music Week acts at Sneaky Dee’s. Of course, the main reason was to see Tim Chaisson and Morning Fold – how could we not, when they were to play from 5:30 til 6 and we didn’t have to be at the QE Theatre until 8:00 to see Poor Young Things… By now, my husband was starting to really clue in to how much of a Trews’ fan (fanatic?) I’d become, when, from across the room, I recognized a couple of people from their Facebook profile pics & posts as fans of The Trews… He followed me over and we introduced ourselves and spent a few minutes engaging in fan talk before the boys from PEI came on. They were great and I loved the small venue that enabled us to see them up close – first time seeing them, as well. Even managed to ask Tim to autograph the CMW programme I’d picked up, ask how his Indigogo “campaign” was going and also ask if he would be playing fiddle with The Trews later in the evening!

Right on time, Poor Young Things started at 8 and I was pleasantly surprised. I hadn’t heard of them before purchasing our tickets, nor had I checked them out on Youtube, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I enjoyed what they played and even went back out to the lobby to purchase a couple of their CDs, Let It Sleep, asking them to autograph both copies. Not sure what they – or Tim Chaisson – thought of some middle-aged woman asking for their autographs, but I try not to think about that.

Met up with one of the “girls” we’d met at Sneaky Dee’s, while waiting for the stage to be readied for The Trews, and she said they’d tweeted that they wanted to see everyone on their feet (we’d all remained seated for PYT). Sure enough, everyone did when the lights went out and the bagpipe intro began; we were mid-row and if it weren’t for the fact that all the seats to the right of me were vacant, I would have had a hell of a time trying to see the stage. Luckily, I could move back and forth along the row, as needed. That would have been my only complaint for the evening. Other than standing the whole time… That’s why the “assigned seating” venue appealed to us, but that’s just old(er) folks for you.  This middle-age thing seems to have happened overnight, but seeing guys 15-20 years younger (maybe 25??) who are easy on the eyes and can sing so well and play so energetically is a great rejuvenator!

Nevertheless, I only remember fragments of the concert(!). I figured the set list would start with The World, I Know, based on previous posts about the tour, which I thought was appropriate: a song from the newest album and one sort of ‘dark and dramatic’ and effective as an opening. Other than that, I went not hoping for any particular song(s) to be played – didn’t think I should, when it was my first Trews’ concert. To be honest, I hoped that they didn’t play too many acoustic songs – the acoustic CD was my least favourite – until Sing Your Heart Out… Wow, hearing and seeing things live makes such a difference and I’ve played the video someone posted of it from that night a number of times over. My hubby had only recently figured out the lyrics to Poor Ol’ Broken Hearted Me and I thought Colin’s comment that introduced it was kind of funny – hey, that’s exactly what women are supposed to do or be like (well, maybe not all the time, nor to bring men to their knees…just enough to keep ’em on their toes). It’s a good rock number, live or recorded. The Significant Other enjoyed Misery Loves Company and Hope & Ruin, as I had left that CD in the car for weeks on end, but he was most impressed with Highway of Heroes. He is in the military and I think he was touched by how well-written it is. The piper, Adam, I think
his name is, and Tim on the fiddle made it even more poignant. My favourites of the evening were the ‘oldies’ Not Ready To Go and Tired of Waiting, but I realized how high-energy So She’s Leaving is – a live show can add such a vital element to songs that are already hits.

Other bits & pieces I can recall and enjoyed include Jeff’s deft talent on the keyboards, especially on Paranoid Freak. John Angus’ guitar solo (during The Traveling Kind, I think? …my aging mind, eh) was amazing and it was tiring watching him. Sean grounds the group from the apex of the stage and his drum solo was better live than any concert clips of his solos I’d watched. And I think Jack is an absolutely great sidekick to, and perfect foil for, JA and his energy. And then there’s Colin – his voice is powerful and he is charismatic, whether he’s belting it out or delivering a slower tune, almost caressingly so. I think his best attribute is that he tempers it all with that Canadian “self-deprecation” he mentioned.

It was definitely a Big Night Out for this new empty-nest couple, but at the same time, it seemed like a total-strangers-becoming-friends kind of party: Poor Young Things borrowing Jeff for a couple of their songs, Tim being in town and able to fiddle on HOH and a few other numbers, and then the venerable Gord Sinclair from The Tragically Hip joining them onstage for Love Is The Real Thing and One By One. The encore was like a big East Coast kitchen party (and probably just like one, a bit of a blur), beginning sedately enough with You Gotta Let Me In. Ishmael & Maggie followed, which was my favourite of those last three numbers – loved the groupings around the microphones. The grand finale of Rocking In The Free World was a perfect way to end this most Canadian of shows – not only did it honour Neil Young, but it had that typical Canadian brand of inclusiveness when even young guys who I think were The Trews’ “stagehands” participated – they all looked like they were having a blast. I now find myself referring to all these people (including the familiar faces of strangers from Facebook!) by their first names as though I’d known them for years or they were loved ones. I think, at age 50, I’ve come to the conclusion that, as someone who has lived in a number of places in & out of Canada, a show like this is a good reminder of the talent we have in this country and how good Canadians seem to be at taking themselves – or what they do – seriously and working hard, yet having so much fun while they’re at it. Hats off to this younger generation for a memorable evening and their contribution to the world I know as a pretty good place to be.

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For the fans, by the fans. Since 2005.
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