By Robyn Crosby
Photos by Andrew Hartl
Remember 20 years ago… you had slightly different hair; you were jamming out to I Mother Earth and Our Lady Peace with your air guitar and/or air drums in your room instead of diligently studying for that upcoming test. Or maybe you missed the morning midterm because you brought your air instruments, Docs, and flannel to their first show together the night before? Either way, these two bands were the soundtrack for many of us through rites of passage in our Canadian upbringing.
This was evident as the happy, cacophonous crowd of about 2700 reminisced and belted out practically every lyric during the first night of back to back shows of the OLPxIME tour in Toronto. Home, as OLP calls it. Often in anticipatory nostalgia overload, or due to beer consumption, revelers belted out the lyrics prematurely ahead of musical pauses.
For IME, the tour serves as the 20-year anniversary celebration of Scenery and Fish. “You never call, you don’t write,” frontman Edwin joked. “We’re at Massey Hall and we have to behave…but you can stand up. And you can sing,” he said to encourage the half standing, half seated crowd at the beginning of the show. The sparingly spotlighted Edwin and IME didn’t disappoint, their heavy percussive and psychedelic guitar sounds sent the crowd into overdrive and not a soul was in their seat by the end of it. Visually the beams of light complemented the almost Roger Waters-like vibe that IME pulls off audaciously. There’s only one thing that could make the IME set even better – a spotlight for Edwin.
The spot did come on later on in the show. The design was likely for it to come in later when the band shared an important message. The message was about donations being taken at the merchandise booth for World Vision and clean water. “In Canada, we are blessed, save some lives at the merch table. Spread good karma, it always comes back to you.” Great music, great lights and a great message from the band, ending with “Rain Will Fall”.
With his four-man army, Raine Maida and his megaphone opened with “One Man Army”. Bassist Duncan Coutts, guitarist Steve Mazur, and newer to the OLP scene, Jason Pierce on drums, killed their set. Track after track, everyone was just as amped or more amped with the start of each song. Monday night at Massey Hall was no obstacle for the band or the audience.
Outside of sounding great, OLP’s set bled memories and likely left many voiceless. Old faithful hits were played such as “Superman’s Dead”, “Innocent”. The Neil Young-inspired “Paper Moon” and a treat for us all, new music. “We know how these things go. Sometimes not well,” Maida said before getting into the well received “Drop Me In The Water”. The song is nowhere to be found on the Internet, expect live concert go-er footage on YouTube. Hopefully, a single will be released soon for radio and personal play. “In Repair” was dedicated to a friend, Maida stated. The song transitioned to “Grace, Too” and it became apparent which friend was being honoured. The gentle and well-performed nod to Gord Downie was heart-stirring and perfect.
When “4am” was over, the first in the encore, Maida said the next song would be the last. From the rowdy and well quenched to moderate, fans tried to rush the front of the stage. But Massey Hall pro-tip, as Edwin called out prior, you can’t do that… they were promptly ushered back to their paid seats to enjoy the last few minutes of the show. A show not complete without one classic OLP element left. That element, Maida climbing a stack of amps to head to the balcony level to thank everyone for coming. So second pro-tip, if you are at a seated venue and want to be very up close, even briefly, pick your seats near the tallest stack of amps at the next show, he usually veers left or stage right.
As if all that happened! If you are an OLP fan from the absolute beginning, you might get that reference! Left wanting more or didn’t catch the shows? Well, hopefully, that new song leads to a new OLP album in 2017. The last release from the band was 2012. What pairs well with album releases? Well, more touring of course!
Not Quite Sonic
Used To Be Alright
So Gently We Go
Earth, Sky, and C.
One More Astronaut
Rain Will Fall
One Man Army
Fire in the Hen House
Drop Me in the Water (NEW)
In Repair / Grace, Too
Is Anybody Home?