the Watchmen music

[Live Music] The Watchmen – Danforth Music Hall, Toronto, ON, 12/14/18

Some people will always be in your life, and no matter how long you have been apart, when you get together it’s like not a day has gone by. That is my friendship with Jenn, a special person in my life I met when we went to Western together a long time ago. Our friendship has always been effortless. It helps to have similar interests, as well as an ability to find twisted humour in practically everything; Jenn is a kindred spirit in that regard. We have always shared a love for the trifecta of Canadian 90s bands: the Watchmen, the Odds and the Headstones. These are three bands we would go to see very frequently during our uni days. We’d scrape together the scratch to buy tix at the downtown London, ON watering hole, Call the Office and be right there fighting the mosh pits to witness greatness in the front row.

The Watchmen was the one band we went to see the most frequently; at least four times in four years. It wasn’t until October 2008 when Jenn and I reunited to see the Watchmen perform at the Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto. Then, we hadn’t attended a Watchmen concert together until January 2016 when they performed at the Danforth Music Hall (which I wrote about here). And so it goes, life has been extremely busy for both of us…we hadn’t really talked again until this past September when Jenn contacted me on Facebook Messenger that the Watchmen were returning to the DMH in December…did I want to go? Umm…YES!!

The week leading up to the event, I was planning my route and making some decisions. Jenn had moved since our last concert, and there was no driveway parking like I had last time…She still lives in East York,  but just south of the Danforth where there is half street parking and half “Green P” public parking. Both can be dicy and writhe with an errant parking ticket if you aren’t careful. Yeah, driving and parking in Toronto is not fun. I can manage riding the subway, but I’d have a long ride back to my car late after the event. I decided to chance it and weather the Friday night traffic to her place and park on the street, so I could simply take off home after the show. This ended up being the best decision, and really wasn’t that bad after all.

Just some of the interesting things found at Jenn’s

I arrived at Jenn’s place to be greeted by her bright and talkative 5-year-old daughter, who is the cutest. A  hug and a homemade cosmopolitan welcomed me into Jenn’s warm and eclectic two bedroom apartment, filled with interesting things. We talked and reminisced while waiting for the babysitter to arrive, and it was certainly like old times. The sitter arrived and Jenn and I ventured into the light of the Danforth.

The last time we went to the Watchmen, we grabbed a bite at the Detroit Eatery, a greasy spoon along the strip. We decided to relive our night in 2016 and go visit it again. Fish and chips, and a brew were what we had, and they were delicious. We caught up on what was going on in each other’s lives and as expected, time passed way too quickly.

We headed down to the DMH, and had missed the opening act, Ron Hawkins (Lowest of the Low). We had just enough time to check our coats and stroll by the merch table before the Watchmen took to the stage at 9 PM sharp.

The first song of the evening was Must to Be Free. The crowd went nuts, and so did we! The Watchmen still have it, and delivered a tight show. Their major hits were paid props including Boneyard Tree, Run & Hide, Slomotion, Incarnate, Stereo and All Uncovered. The Watchmen managed to showcase their talent, hitting the hits and adding several well-known cover songs to their set, including the Johnny Nash hit, I Can See Clearly Now, Tom Petty’s Square One, as well as Superman by R.E.M. The band also paid respect to the Hip’s Gord Downie, performing a cover of Wheat Kings, which stoked the audience. The opener, Ron Hawkins, came out and did an excellent duet with the band of the song A New England (originally by Billy Bragg; I’m familiar with it via Kirsty MacColl). This concert was really something to see and hear live…

When we had gone to see the Watchmen in 2016, Jenn and I had trouble with the Amazonian-sized dudes around us who enjoyed bathing in Axe Body Spray. Passing out from the cologne fumes, we escaped to the right side of the stage, and this action ended up being the best thing at the time. We had great line of sight, and plenty of room to dance. Would we be lucky a second time with that same spot? This evening, as the Watchmen took to the stage, we quickly rushed to the right side of the auditorium…and so did everyone else. It was a packed house with a lot of fans. We are both around the same height and obviously not 5 ft 8, but It was fine, I thought; we could see in between the heads at Danny and the boys somewhat comfortably. That was until the phones came out.

With advancements in technology and the advent of social media, a green monster has emerged, compelling users to compulsively take shot after shot – never mind video recording entire segments – of the show with their cell phones. I expect some picture-taking (I snapped a few myself), but I also hope for discretion. I was in the unenviable position of standing behind two people obsessed with their phones. I hazard they watched the entire show through their cell screens from song one…and sadly, for a portion of the show, so did I. In true Canadian fashion, instead of confronting them, I swallowed my ire and tried to ignore it. What are you going to do? I didn’t want any trouble. So, when a space next to Jenn opened up, I moved over to allow a tall dude with a fat head on my left to block my peripheral view of their phones. Huzzah!

Back to the band, do these guys drink from the fountain of youth? Lead singer, Danny Greaves has not aged in 25 years; he continues to be his trim self. Ken Tizzard was the only one whose appearance has changed – from a fine moustache, to a wicked beard with extended goatee. But, these guys are getting older; the show was done in an hour and a half, and Danny cited a “curfew” as the reason for the show ending when it did. After all with over 20 songs and two encores under their belt for the evening, these guys were allowed to “exit stage right.”

When the house lights went up, Jenn and I doubled back to the merch table one last time to check out the wares; Watchmen t-shirts were for sale, as well as some solo projects on vinyl by the band. Jenn purchased a Christmas card with a downloadable song sung by Danny with all proceeds going to charity.

Overall, this was another memorable evening with Jenn and the Watchmen. I totally look forward to more experiences with Jenn in the near future and I am also certain we’ll be going to see the Watchmen again, whenever they stop in Toronto.

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[Live Music] The Watchmen – Danforth Music Hall, Toronto, ON, 01/30/16

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The last time I saw the Watchmen was in September 2008 at Toronto’s Horseshoe Tavern. At that point, I guesstimate I had seen them live about 4 times – all with my friend, Jenn. Jenn and I were frequent concert-goers during our university days. Our preferred bands – the Odds, Headstones and the Watchmen. Any time any of these bands came to town, we’d splurge for a ticket to see them. So it goes with life, you graduate and lose track. But, Jenn, one of my oldest friends, would always somehow continue to be there in my life in some way. Letters, emailing, an invite to a wedding…and later, Facebook would offer a new avenue of communication. Every time we would get together after a long hiatus, it was like old times.

Back in September 2015, Jenn messaged me to let me know the Watchmen were coming to Toronto’s Danforth Music Hall in November – did I want to go? It was an emphatic YES for me. The band had subsequently cancelled a bunch of dates, including Toronto’s, and rescheduled the gig for January 30th. Can I still go? I told Jenn yes! Plans were made, and I marked off my calendar and anxiously awaited for the day to arrive.

The plan was to meet Jenn at her house in the East York neighbourhood. I would park my car at her place and we’d either walk to the Danforth where the venue was and grab a bite, or hop onto the subway. The evening promised mild temperatures, so with my walking shoes on, and my GPS pointed towards Jenn’s house, I headed off with an hour’s lead time.

Holy crap, I hate my GPS, but for once it worked in my favour! Traffic on the Don Valley Parkway was gonna make me late – it was going to be a 20 minute stop-and-go delay. Bloddy ell. For once however, my GPS did not shit the bed as it detoured me around that mess and got me to Jenn’s on time. I arrived at Jenn’s, parked the car, and after hugs and hellos, we were off to the Danforth to find somewhere to eat.

Danforth Avenue (or “the Danforth” as it is known in both the Barenaked Ladies song and in Toronto) is a part of Toronto that is known for its Greektown neighbourhood. I am very much not familiar with this part of Toronto, but I liked what I was smelling – garlic and marinated meat wafted along the neighbourhood. Restaurants and little shops peppered the scene as we headed over to a little hole-in-the-wall Jenn had been dying to try called the Detroit Eatery Diner. After a delicious meal of burgers and a side of “catch-up”, we walked down the Danforth and wait for the venue to open.

We headed into the Danforth Music Hall around 8 PM where the opening act had just taken the stage. Never having been at the Music Hall before, Jenn said there was seating up in the balcony where we could have a beer and flake out until the opening act got the hook. Sure!

I had no idea who the opening act was. But, about halfway through the set I recognized a song about “freight trains and paper planes are just like you and me”. I was a bit confused at first why I was listening to Walmart Canada’s Christmas commercial jingle, but then realized they must have written the song! Still not sure who this band was…The lead singer would front each song by giving awkward cliches like, “here’s a little ditty that goes something like this…” or “our next song is…well, listen for yourself…” or “here it is, check it out…” I couldn’t help but laugh at each tag line. Unfortunately, whoever was at the soundboard did a piss poor job: The sound was wayyy too loud, and the mics kept producing ear-piercing feedback. I honestly felt bad for those guys! Nothing can ruin a decent performance more than bad sound. Overall, they weren’t bad. It wasn’t until later that I found out the band was called East of Avenue (I goggled it). Anyway…

Before the Watchmen took to the stage, we moved down to the main floor which was basically a slanted concrete floor with a stage at the end. (I am being simplistic – it is a nice venue for a concert.) We were pretty far back initially, but had plenty of space between us and others around us. While we waited, the Hall played some Alice Cooper, Ozzy and David Bowie. We made some predictions about songs the Watchmen would play – All Uncovered, Lusitana, Laughing, Run and Hide, Stereo, Incarnate…?

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The Watchmen took to the stage at 9 PM sharp, starting the set strong with Say Something. At that exact moment, it was like every 6ft 5 in dude in the venue decided that tonight they were all friends and they were going to huddle together in groups directly in front of us. It wasn’t like you could look in between the fat heads at Danny screaming into the mic either, no, it was all wall of heads. For the first few songs, we didn’t care so much, we were just so happy to be in the presence of greatness that is the Watchmen again.

About four songs in, the giants were starting to get on my nerves. I asked Jenn if she could see from her angle, and we both agreed to move on down closer to the stage. We found a half decent spot where we could actually see the whole band. But, we were about to pass out from the odour; it was like they were passing out Axe body spray at the bar and every dude in the area bathed in it. After a huge coughing fit, we moved further down, towards the stage, and further down still…until we wound up in this pocket on the right side of the stage by the emergency exit, where there was NOBODY! And our view of the band was effin deadly! Wow, no smell, no tall dudes…Just plenty of room to rock on and watch the Watchmen.

And, I have to say, no kidding – the guys in the band look the same as they did when we went to see them 20 years ago! They even dress the same! They certainly sound the same…Danny’s voice was like butter, and the band’s performances were tight. These guys are professionals! Meanwhile, you look out at the crowd and most of it was predominantly a sausagefest of 40-something balding dudes. I couldn’t help but think how a lot of these guys are now career men with jobs, houses, kids…a far departure from what was happening in university – as their skinny, head full of hair selves attempted “school” while chasing the next kegger…

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The set-list recognized all of the Watchmen’s albums. No Lusitana, but Run and Hide, Stereo, and All Uncovered were part of the rotation this night. There was also a surprise performance of Tom Petty’s The Waiting which was pretty good. I sang myself hoarse by the end of the evening.

The Setlist:

  1. Say Something
  2. Boneyard Tree
  3. I’m Still Gone
  4. Slomotion
  5. Anything But That
  6. Holiday
  7. I’m Waiting
  8. Rooster
  9. Brighter Hell
  10. Middle East
  11. Run and Hide
  12. Incarnate
  13. Must To Be Free
  14. All Uncovered
  15. Absolutely Anytime

Encore

16. Trampoline
17. Any Day Now
18. The Waiting (Tom Petty cover)
19. Stereo

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Another excellent evening by the Watchmen. Here’s hoping they return to Toronto again soon. You can bet I’ll be going!

A Box of Goodies and Some ‘Fee

It’s a blog link-up today! After reading this post, please join my friend, Aaron at Keeps Me Alive, where he shares what he got from me this week! Read about it here!

This past Monday I went to the post box and was happy to find a parcel addressed to me! It was sent by Aaron from the Keeps Me Alive HQ!

As much as I would like to say I wasn’t expecting this package, I’d be lying. But I am surprised with its contents, which were unexpected and AWESOME!

First, some context.

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This past Christmas 2014, some of you may recall me gifting myself the Tragically Hip Fully Completely Limited Edition Super Deluxe Boxed Set, which contained a book about this awesome album, the full remastered album, a live CD of them performing Fully Completely live at the Horseshoe Tavern in the Fall of 1993, a DVD of Heksenketel, which was a glimpse into the Hip on the road during their 1993 Another Roadside Attraction tour and 5 lithographs. I recall Aaron commenting on that post about how awesome this set looked, and as a collector, how cool it would be to have it. I wish I shared his enthusiasm for it…although I love this particular album, top to bottom, the Super Deluxe set was great to peruse, but it wasn’t something I wanted keep in my collection for a lifetime.

At the same time, Aaron had received the smaller Fully Completely Deluxe Edition for Christmas. This one only contains the remastered album and live CD in one package. One day, I had a thought…why not ask Aaron to swap deluxe sets? He’d wind up with what he wants (the book and CDs), and I’d still have my album, which is really what I should have bought in the first place. I broached the subject with the hubs in January, and he supported me, but I decided I would sit on the idea for a spell.

A couple of weeks ago, I emailed Aaron to ask if he wanted to do the swap, which he excitedly said YES. And thus, the parcel swap was born.

Aaron’s parcel to me arrived on Monday. I don’t get home mail delivery – I pick up my mail from a community super mailbox up the street. Thus, Canada Post crammed Aaron’s package into the smaller thinner locked parcel mail box that is meant for much smaller parcels. As a result, I had to bend the box to get it out. Thankfully, nothing got damaged!

So, I opened the package to discover…the Fully Completely Deluxe Edition inside!! Yes!…along with some other surprises!

devils brew

…How about some COFFEE!! The minute I managed to unwedge the box, I could smell the amazing aroma of roasted beans! Aaron’s recent trip to Taranna provided him access to his favourite beans and brew retailer, Moonbean. He was generous enough to send along a one-pound bag of Devil’s Brew coffee beans for me to review on a future ‘Fee post! Yay!

andrewcash

…Next up, Andrew Cash’s Boomtown on cassette! Currently, the CD version of this album is one of my grail list items on the KMA! Aaron said he had this cassette in his collection, and decided to send it to me! Finally, the universe is how it should be!

Sony walkman aaron

…A Sony Sports Walkman! Aaron wanted to send me what he thought was the same model Walkman I had but broke years ago (read here for context). Alas, it is not the same model. However, I am still the proud owner of a half-decent Walkman! Now, let’s listen to some Andrew Cash!

Helen troy

…An odd action figure of …Helen of Troy?! Looking a little manish, this action figure is part of a diorama, and comes complete with concrete pillar. Helen stands with a shocked look on her face. I guess the fake pillar is so she has something to hang on to so she doesn’t pass out. Aaron says he had this stored away, and it recently surfaced. He thought that I should have it for some reason. 🙂  Helen will live on my desk at work, next to my Super Grover figurine.

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Last, but certainly not least…the reason for the sending of the package: the Fully Completely Deluxe Edition! It is a simple set that folds out to reveal two CDs. The liner notes are reminiscent of the original album’s liner notes – songs with lyrics on one side, and the album cover on the other! Fantastic! I am very happy with this set!

As mentioned, I have sent along a package to Aaron. Be sure to check out his version!

Thanks again, Aaron, for the package full of awesomeness! Now go and read his post!!