Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers in Toronto

Set:

  • Rockin’ Around (With You)
  • Mary Jane’s Last Dance
  • You Don’t Know How It Feels
  • Forgotten Man
  • I Won’t Back Down
  • Free Fallin’
  • Walls
  • Don’t Come Around Here No More
  • It’s Good to Be King
  • Crawling Back to You
  • Wildflowers
  • Learning to Fly
  • Yer So Bad
  • I Should Have Known It
  • Refugee (which, alas, didn’t really turn into a Mike Campbell firework display; his playing last night, while brilliant, was understated)
  • Runnin’ Down a Dream

Encore:

  • You Wreck Me
  • American Girl

Next up: Blondie (with Garbage!) and X.

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U2 in Toronto

More later. Promise.

Set:

  • Sunday Bloody Sunday
  • New Year’s Day
  • Bad
    • Suzanne [Leonard Cohen] (this was superlative; also, in the name of full disclosure, for the second straight time the opening notes of “Bad” reduced me to tears)
  • Pride (In the Name of Love)

The Joshua Tree:

  • Where the Streets Have No Name
  • I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For
  • With or Without You
  • Bullet the Blue Sky
  • Running to Stand Still
  • Red Mill Mining Town
  • In God’s Country
  • Trip Through Your Wire
  • One Tree Hill
  • Exit
  • Mothers of the Disappeared

Encore:

  • Miss Sarajevo
  • Beautiful Day
  • Elevation (surprisingly awesome!)
  • Vertigo (surprisingly really awesome!)
  • Ultraviolet (Light My Way)
  • One

…and then Bono shouted, “One more!” and…

  • I Will Follow

It wasn’t quite Moncton or Vancouver 2015…but it was damn close, and The Joshua Tree live was incredible top-to-bottom.

Tool in Hamilton

Better late than never, it’s the setlist from last week’s killer Tool show at Copps Coliseum FirstOntario Centre in Hamilton, where I’d previously seen them (along with Mike Patton’s penis) in 2002.

Set:

  • The Grudge (first time since that aforementioned 2002 show!)
  • Parabol (ditto!)
  • Parabola (ditto!)
  • Schism
  • Opiate
  • Ænema
  • Descending (an instrumental song which, apparently, represents new Tool music?)
  • Jambi
  • Third Eye (highlight of the night; I was not expecting this, especially not in the back end of the set)
  • Forty-Six & 2

Encore (the band left the stage after “Forty-Six & 2” and a neon “Intermission” sign was lowered):

  • Drum solo
  • Vicarious
  • Sweat
  • (-) Ions
    • Stinkfist

The visuals alone were worth the price of admission. Now about that new album…

Stuff I’ve Seen at the Air Canada Centre

In honour of absolutely nothing, here’s an updated list of all stuff I’ve seen at the Air Canada Centre. I sat in the platinums for both Leaf games I saw this month–I was on the boards for the second one–and it cost me a grand total of zero dollars. I know the best people.

  1. Apr. 30/99: Leafs vs. Flyers (2-1 OT) (Eastern Conference Quarter Finals Game 5)
  2. Oct. 30/99: Leafs vs. Flames (2-1)
  3. Nov. 13/99: Leafs vs. Red Wings (1-1)
  4. Jan. 12/00: Raptors vs. Magic (108-102)
  5. Feb. 1/00: Our Lady Peace w/the Stereophonics
  6. Oct. 5/00: Pearl Jam w/Supergrass
  7. Oct. 7/00: Leafs vs. Canadiens (2-0)
  8. Nov. 17/00: Leafs vs. Lightning (2-2)
  9. Dec. 2/00: Leafs vs. Rangers (8-2)
  10. Dec. 3/00: The Tragically Hip (“An Evening with…”)
  11. Feb. 10/01: Leafs vs. Wings (3-3)
  12. Mar. 3/01: Leafs vs. Senators (2-3 OT)
  13. Mar. 4/01: Raptors vs. Knicks (98-88)
  14. Sept. 18/01: Tool w/Meshuggah
  15. Oct. 9/01: Leafs vs. Mighty Ducks (6-1)
  16. Oct. 21/01: Music Without Borders Live with the Tragically Hip, Alanis Morissette, Our Lady Peace, the Barenaked Ladies, Bruce Cockburn and Choclair
  17. Mar. 1/02: Raptors vs. Trail Blazers (81-91)
  18. Mar. 2/02: Leafs vs. Sabres (2-2)
  19. Mar. 3/02: Raptors vs. 76ers (84-96)
  20. Mar. 30/02: Leafs vs. Devils (1-3)
  21. May 28/02: Leafs vs. Hurricanes (1-2 OT) (Eastern Conference Finals Game 6) 
  22. Sept. 28/02: The Who w/the Counting Crows
  23. Oct. 14/02: Leafs vs. Penguins (4-5)
  24. Oct. 16/02: The Rolling Stones w/the White Stripes
  25. Nov. 14/02: Leafs vs. Red Wings (1-2)
  26. Dec. 5/02: Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band
  27. Dec. 22/02: Raptors vs. Lakers (107-109 OT)
  28. Dec. 23/02: Leafs vs. Thrashers (5-1)
  29. Jan. 4/03: Leafs vs. Devils (2-1)
  30. Feb. 18/03: Leafs vs. Hurricanes (4-3)
  31. Oct. 13/03: Leafs vs. Capitals (2-2)
  32. Dec. 9/03: Leafs vs. Blues (2-3 OT)
  33. Dec. 20/03: Leafs vs. Canadiens (4-2)
  34. Dec. 23/03: Leafs vs. Panthers (5-2)
  35. Feb. 18/04: Raptors vs. Spurs (82-86)
  36. Jul. 7/04: Eric Clapton w/Robert Randolph & the Family Band
  37. Nov. 2/04: Green Day w/New Found Glory and Sugarcult
  38. Nov. 8/04: The Beastie Boys w/Talib Kwali
  39. Nov. 26/04: The Tragically Hip w/the Joel Plaskett Emergency
  40. Dec. 15/04: Raptors vs. Timberwolves (96-90) (Vince Carter’s last game as a Raptor; he didn’t play)
  41. Jan. 26/05:  Raptors vs. Heat (96-111)
  42. Feb. 6/05: Raptors vs. Mavericks (113-122)
  43. Feb. 27/05: Raptors vs. Lakers (108-102)
  44. Mar. 11/05: Raptors vs. Hawks (112-116 OT)
  45. Mar. 20/05: Raptors vs. Cavaliers (105-98) (LeBron James: 56/10/5/48)
  46. Sept. 1/05: System of a Down w/the Mars Volta and Bad Acid Trip
  47. Sept. 17/05: U2 w/Dashboard Confessional (Eddie Vedder guest appearance)
  48. Sept. 19/05: Pearl Jam w/Sleater-Kinney (Bono guest appearance)
  49. Oct. 5/05: Leafs vs. Senators (2-3 SO) (first shootout in NHL history)
  50. Oct. 22/05: Leafs vs. Flyers (2-5)
  51. Nov. 15/05: Leafs vs. Rangers (2-1)
  52. Dec. 23/05: Leafs vs. Bruins (2-1)
  53. Jan. 26/06: Leafs vs. Sabres (4-8)
  54. Feb. 7/06: Leafs vs. Thrashers (4-1)
  55. Mar. 4/06: Leafs vs. Senators (2-4)
  56. May 9/06: Pearl Jam w/My Morning Jacket
  57. May 10/06: Pearl Jam w/My Morning Jacket
  58. Oct. 4/06: Leafs vs. Senators (1-4)
  59. Oct. 14/06: Leafs vs. Flames (5-4 OT) (Mats Sundin’s 500th career goal)
  60. Nov. 21/06: Bob Dylan w/the Foo Fighters
  61. Nov. 25/06: Leafs vs. Bruins (1-3)
  62. Nov. 28/06: Leafs vs. Bruins (1-4)
  63. Dec. 4/06: The Who w/The Pretenders
  64. Dec. 5/06: Leafs vs. Thrashers (2-5)
  65. Dec. 19/06: Leafs vs. Panthers (3-7)
  66. Dec. 26/06: Leafs vs. Wild (4-3)
  67. Dec. 30/06: Leafs vs. Senators (2-3 OT)
  68. Feb. 8/07: The Tragically Hip w/Buck 65
  69. Feb. 12/07: Leafs vs. Islanders (2-3 SO)
  70. May 1/07: Raptors vs. Nets (98-96) (Eastern Conference First Round Game 5)
  71. Oct. 6/07: Leafs vs. Canadiens (4-3 OT)
  72. Feb. 2/08: Leafs vs. Senators (4-2)
  73. Feb. 5/08: Leafs vs. Panthers (0-8)
  74. Oct. 11/08: Leafs vs. Canadiens (1-6)
  75. Dec. 23/08: Leafs vs. Stars (2-8)
  76. Dec. 30/08: Leafs vs. Thrashers (4-3 OT)
  77. Dec. 1/09: Leafs vs. Sabres (1-4)
  78. Jan. 30/09: Leafs vs. Penguins (5-4)
  79. May 9/09: Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band
  80. Oct. 10/09: Leafs vs. Penguins (2-5)
  81. Dec. 19/09: Leafs vs. Bruins (2-0)
  82. Dec. 21/09: Leafs vs. Sabres (2-3 OT)
  83. Dec. 26/09: Leafs vs. Canadiens (2-3 OT)
  84. Apr. 6/10: Leafs vs. Flyers (0-2)
  85. Aug. 9/10: Paul McCartney
  86. Nov. 6/10: Leafs vs. Sabres (2-3 OT)
  87. Nov. 13/10: Leafs vs. Canucks (3-5)
  88. Dec. 20/10: Leafs vs. Thrashers (3-6)
  89. Dec. 28/10: Leafs vs. Hurricanes (3-4)
  90. Mar. 2/11: Leafs vs. Penguins (3-2 OT)
  91. Mar. 5/11: Leafs vs. Blackhawks (3-5)
  92. Sept. 11/11: Pearl Jam w/Mudhoney (Neil Young guest appearance)
  93. Sept. 12/11: Pearl Jam w/Mudhoney
  94. Dec. 22/11: Leafs vs. Sabres (3-2)
  95. Jan. 3/12: Leafs vs. Lightning (7-3)
  96. Jan. 5/12: Leafs vs. Jets (4-0) (first time seeing the Jets in either of its iterations)
  97. Oct. 25/12: The Smashing Pumpkins w/Morning Parade
  98. Nov. 23/12: The Who w/Vintage Trouble
  99. Oct. 6/13: Leafs vs. Senators (5-4 SO)
  100. Dec. 17/13: Leafs vs. Panthers (1-3)
  101. Dec. 19/13: Leafs vs. Coyotes (2-1 SO)
  102. Apr. 5/14: Leafs vs. Jets (2-4)
  103. Oct. 18/14: Leafs vs. Red Wings (1-4) (Sam’s first NHL game)
  104. Dec. 16/14: Leafs vs. Ducks (6-2)
  105. Dec. 20/14: Leafs vs. Flyers (4-7)
  106. Nov. 30/15: Leafs vs. Oilers (3-0)
  107. Dec. 19/15: Leafs vs. Kings (4-0)
  108. Jan. 2/16: Leafs vs. Blues (5-1)
  109. Jan. 18/16: Raptors vs. Nets (112-100)
  110. Feb. 2/16: Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band (Sam’s first Springsteen concert)
  111. Feb. 23/16: Leafs vs. Predators (2-3)
  112. Mar. 1/16: The Who w/Tal Wilkenfeld
  113. Mar. 21/16: Leafs vs. Flames (5-2)
  114. Apr. 27/16: The Who w/Slydigs (Sam’s first Who concert)
  115. May 10/16: Pearl Jam
  116. May 12/16: Pearl Jam (Sam’s first Pearl Jam concert)
  117. Aug. 10/16: The Tragically Hip
  118. Aug. 12/16: The Tragically Hip
  119. Aug. 14/16: The Tragically Hip
  120. Nov. 11/16: Leafs vs. Flyers (6-3)
  121. Dec. 19/16: Leafs vs. Ducks (2-3)
  122. Jan. 23/17: Leafs vs. Flames (4-0)
  123. Mar. 7/17: Leafs vs. Red Wings (3-2)
  124. Mar. 28/17: Leafs vs. Panthers (3-2)

Wow! I’ve had lots of great nights at the ACC, but if I were whittling them down to a top five–and I am–I’d rank them as follows:

  1. The second night of Pearl Jam’s 2006 Air Canada Centre run, which was one of the absolute greatest concerts I’ve attended
  2. The Who in 2006, which was also one of the absolute greatest concerts I’ve attended; I almost collapsed on my way out I was shaking so hard
  3. Leafs vs. Flames in 2006, when Mats Sundin scored his 500th career goal, shorthanded, in overtime, to complete his hat trick
  4. The second of the Hip’s three-night stand on the Man Machine Poem tour. I went to all three. The first and third shows were great; the second was a pantheon concert. I’ve seen the Hip seven times at the ACC…and counting, until we hear otherwise.
  5. Leafs vs. Carolina, 2002 Eastern Conference Finals, for reasons both good and bad.

I can’t wait to keep updating this list!

My Favourite Concerts of 2016

2016 was a good year for me and live music. In fact, there’s a reasonable chance it’ll end up being my best year ever. Among other things, I saw each of my big three (Pearl Jam, the Who, Bruce Springsteen) at least twice. I saw a band about whose potential reunion I once wrote, “This could still happen; then again, pigs could fly.” I saw a show whose opening act was 20 minutes of lucha libre. And I saw the Hip five times, including what might have been their final concert.

How to rank all this? Simple: I can’t. So here’s an unranked top five for you instead:

Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band, 2/1 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto. I’m not a fan of this recent trend of bands touring old records. In the case of Bruce Springsteen, for instance, I’d much rather see him do a regular show than perform a thirty-five-year-old double album in its entirety. Except…it’s The River, and this tour (which I also saw in Buffalo) made a convincing argument that it’s his unvarnished masterpiece. And when he got to the hits, I got to stand next to Sam when she heard “Born to Run” live for the first time. (We also witnessed an incredible fistfight during “Born to Run,” which put a weird bow on the experience.)

Video by Brian Gay

Pearl Jam, 5/12 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto. I hadn’t seen Pearl Jam since late 2013; it was a deliberate break, a chance for me to recalibrate my relationship with my favourite band, and by the time their 2016 tour rolled around I was ready to have them back. The second Toronto show, which got bumped back by a day to accommodate a Raptors’ playoff game, was actually my least favourite of the three I saw–that’s obviously a relative statement–but I’m putting it here anyway for a, being Sam’s first Pearl Jam show; b, us (including Sherkin and Pearl Jam Heather) having GA; c, the Oceans/Inside Job/Breath sequence; and d, Ed’s bizarre mid-“Better Man” rant about a Miami limo driver that was awkward at the time but that now seems remarkably prescient.

Video by Len Anaquod. Watch through till the end!

The Hold Steady, 9/18 at Toronto Urban Roots Festival. I’m not a fan of this recent trend of bands touring old records. In the case of the Hold Steady, for instance, I’d much rather see them doing a regular show than perform a ten-year-old album in its entirety. Except…they absolutely killed Boys and Girls in America. Their set was the highlight of TURF for Sam and me (a weekend which also included, among others, the Hives, the Dropkick Murphys, Whitehorse, Julien Baker in the rain, and the New Pornographers in the blazing heat). Plus, the mini Boys and Girls tour brought Franz Nicolay back into the fold. The Hold Steady are so much better for it.

Video by The Low Lifes

The Who, 4/27 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto. The Who’s “final” Toronto appearance (I bet it wasn’t!) got postponed not once, not twice, but three times: from October 21 to December 1, 2015 to April 26, 2016, and then, thanks to the Raptors, April 27. I wasn’t sure how I’d react to seeing “my” band for potentially the final time. I needn’t have worried: I was too busy screaming along to every single word to feel sad. Plus, when the final two songs are “Baba O’Riley” and “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” it’s hard to feel anything other than euphoria.

Video by Dave Olsen. No relation!

The Tragically Hip, various arenas across Canada. I saw the Man Machine Poem tour five times–once in Calgary, three times in Toronto, and, thanks to years of good ticket-buying karma, Kingston–and it’d be impossible for me to separate the shows from each another. The fact the band even toured this year was miraculous; that the shows were as good as they were made the Man Machine Poem tour something the likes of which we’ll never see again.

Actually, I can separate one from the pack. The Kingston concert was, along with Pearl Jam in Thunder Bay, one of the two most special shows I’ll ever see (and I can’t imagine a third that’d take its place alongside them). A lot of you watched the broadcast–according to CBC at least a third of Canada tuned in–yet while the overriding impression among those who watched it on a screen seemed to be how sad the concert was, those of us who were lucky enough to get a ticket experienced it much differently. This was rock n’ roll. Yeah, there were parts that were difficult–the line “it’s been a pleasure doing business with you” at the end of “Scared” hit all the feels–but for the most part it was much less wake and far more triumphant homecoming for a band that’d spent the past three months walking through hell and come out the other end with heads held high. It was celebratory. It was raucous (I’ve never sang/screamed the words to “Fifty Mission Cap,” “Twist My Arm,” and especially “Grace, Too” like I did that night). And it was moving…moving, but very rarely sorrowful. None of us knows what’ll happen to the Hip next. I went into the Kingston concert thinking for sure this wasn’t “it.” Now I’m pretty sure it was, because how on earth do you top that? One thing we do know: if there’s one band that can, it’s the Hip.

Black Sabbath in Toronto

I haven’t been around a computer much these past couple weeks, which means that Hip/Kingston write-up’s still percolating someplace. I’m hoping it’ll come this weekend–but in the meantime, here’s the setlist from another “farewell” concert. Black Sabbath’s “The End” tour rolled into town Monday. I’d seen them in Calgary a couple years ago, on Easter Sunday of all days; that night still ranks as one of the great, unexpected pleasures of my life as a music fan. Monday…does not. I’ll get to the why in a second. First, the setlist:

Set:

  • Black Sabbath
  • Faeries Wear Boots
  • After Forever
  • Into the Void*
  • Snowblind
  • War Pigs
  • Behind the Wall of Sleep
  • N.I.B.
  • Hand of Doom
  • Rat Salad
  • Iron Man*
  • Dirty Women
  • Children of the Grave

Encore:

  • Paranoid

Note the asterixed songs. Sabbath tunes its songs down; I’m assuming it’s to accommodate their singer’s diminishing range. Ironically, though, Ozzy had a lot more trouble hitting the low notes. “Iron Man” and “Into the Void” (the latter’s probably my favourite Sabbath song) sounded awful. There were places where Ozzy wasn’t anywhere close to being in tune. He gets away with it because he’s Ozzy and he misses his notes while doing Ozzy things…but if you forget that for a minute, and consider instead the fact you’ve paid $60 to stand on a grass hill surrounded by tweekers from South Oshawa and listen to a 68-year-old zombie struggling at the bottom of his vocal register, it becomes a lot more difficult to stomach. I felt embarrassed for him, actually.

His bandmates are great, and Tony Iommi remains one of the best live guitarists I’ve seen. But it’s tempting to say they’d be better off performing with that Ronnie James Dio hologram. (And I haven’t even mentioned losing Sam, first to a washroom line-up and then to the crowd on the lawn, from “Black Sabbath” until “Hand of Doom.” That’s what data overages do to you!) I feel bad for saying this because, again, it’s Ozzy. The man’s a legend. And, well, it might be a blessing that that which stands before him now is retirement.

The Tragically Hip in Kingston

Let’s just see what tomorrow brings.

Set:

  • Fifty Mission Cap
  • Courage
  • Wheat Kings
  • At the Hundredth Meridian
  • In a World Possessed By the Human Mind
  • What Blue
  • Tired as Fuck
  • Machine
  • My Music at Work
  • Lake Fever
  • Toronto #4
  • Puttin’ Down
  • Twist My Arm
  • Three Pistols
  • Fiddler’s Green
  • Little Bones
  • The Last of the Unplucked Gems
  • Something On
  • Poets
  • Bobcaygeon
  • Fireworks

1st Encore:

  • New Orleans is Sinking
  • Boots or Hearts
  • Blow at High Dough

2nd Encore:

  • Nautical Disaster
  • Scared
  • Grace, Too

3rd Encore:

  • Locked in the Trunk of a Car
  • Gift Shop
  • Ahead by a Century

More later.