Great Canadian Music of The 80’s

blue peter

Various Artists

 The Horseshoe


(Photo at right: Chris Wardman and Paul Humphrey of Blue Peter - photo by Alison Wardman)

They came for the music and stayed for the sauna. Acid-washed cheek by spiky haired jowl, the second in the Juno-presented Great Canadian Music series of concerts played out to a packed’n’sticky house.

Full disclosure, the show was more of a Toronto thing than a Canadian thing, what with such as Corey Hart, Men Without Hats and the entire Western scene nowhere to be seen.

Were you an alien just dropped in for the gig, you could be forgiven for thinking there were no female musicians in the 80’s, as that’s how many were on the bill, with the notable exception of The Spoons’ Sandy Horne. And no, Emm Gryner, who appeared with Blue Peter doesn’t count. How come no Lee Aaron, no Alannah Myles, Sass Jordan? 


What we were left with was entertaining in representing the big-haired T.Dot aesthetic of the times. Amid the onrushing wall of nostalgia, a few heads bobbed higher in the waves than others. Winners in the category of Looking And Sounding Just Like Back In The Day, Blue Peter. Front guy Paul Humphrey brought his best cool-as the-other-side-of Mariah-Carey’s pillow thang, the backing crew were crisp and to the point and everybody loved ‘Don't Walk Past’.


Platinum BlondePlatinum BlondeBest Bod On Show went to the newly renovated Mark Holmes, in tight undershirt, coming over very much the London Guido washed up on the Jersey Shore. The rest of the band wisely kept their heads down and played, which kind of made old fans aware of the absence of the late and always affable Kenny McLean. It was amusing watching the cheeky monkeys stretching their three songs close to stadium length, in preparation for a 2011 reunion tour, sparked by the Crystal Castles/ Robert Smith charting remake of "Not in Love’. Which natch, was the set opener and certainly the ladies in the house had no probs with that or ‘Standing In The Dark’ or anything else about the set.


On the other glove, Chris Tait and Chalk Circle looked tired and van-lagged but came off the canvas with a strong rip at T Rex classic ‘20th Century Boy’


The early pace setter was Coney Hatch front dude the irrepressible Andy Curran, leading a band including Blue Rodeo drummer Glenn Milchem, beating the skins with a radiant grin as the crew tore through a medley set, doing an excellent job of recreating the infamous after-hours jams at Toronto’s Lee’s Palace in the mid-Eighties.


Maestro Fresh WesMaestro Fresh WesAfter kickin’ it hard with his chart bustin’  "Monkey Bars," Curran introduced guitar hero and former Triumph front guy Rik Emmett. Who promptly set to work taking home the Most Improved Player award, showing off dazzling fretwork and a command of specific genre dynamics a million miles away from his axe work with Triumph. 

Dude wasn’t about to diss on his roots though, as he approached Triumph’s anthemic "Magic Power" with requisite metal riffage and attitude, putting the crowd in a singalong space. But this ain’t the 80’s so not a single lighter waved its approval aloft. 


Only act topping the PBs for sheer Audience Response and Bringing The A-Game was Maestro Fresh Wes. The 'Godfather of Rap' hit the boards looking and rhyming like it really was 20 years ago and he was kicking it on Electric Circus. With flow and high energy well in front, Wes took a number of occasions to pay tribute to all the bands he had the honour to appear with on this night, that he grew up listening to. Coming from the still relevant and biggest money puller on the bill, it was a class moment from a class act. Easing into ‘Drop The Needle’ with a seamless flow to ‘The Black Tie Affair’, he had them eating outa long before the obligatory monster hit ‘Let Your Backbone Slide’.


The SpoonsThe SpoonsThing is, someone had to follow da Maestro and that fate fell to The Spoons and the Deppe/Horne unit didn’t back off. “Arias And Symphonies’ and ‘Nova Heart’ were delivered faithful to the album cuts and their neo-romanticism seemed to strike a chord with the fans. 

The facts that the house was fast emptying before they closed with ‘Romantic Traffic’ was all about the show peaking with Maestro Fresh Wes and the oncoming snowstorm bringing most unromantic traffic.


Lenny Stoute


Blue Peter Performs "Don't Walk Past"