Tom Cochrane and Red Rider kicked off their month-long tour of small town Ontario at the Chatham Capitol Theatre last night to an enthusiastic crowd that just got livelier and livelier as the night progressed. For a Wednesday night in the little city on the Thames, it was an evening of Canadian rock history spanning 40 years of hits over two sets of music.
A little scruffier-looking than when he was younger, but none the lesser for wear, Cochrane opened the show with the title track from his biggest selling album Mad Mad World. His voice was in the pocket all night and from the moment Red Rider started the song, the evening became a treasured moment for the Chatham music history books.
Cochrane is an energetic performer who bounces around the stage with more energy and fervor than most singers half his age and he compliments that with a personal approach that most never reach with their audience. Not only did he mention Chatham in his chats, but he treated the audience like we were friends going waaaay back – even though he’s never performed in the city before. His tale about the band’s first tour out in eastern Canada before their first album was released was a humourous introduction for Avenue A. He talked about taking their 1970s Dodge Omni out to a beach on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean and going for a walk, only to return to the car flooded by the tide.
“We were young and had no experience with the ocean,” he told the crowd. “We thought that driving the Omni to the beach was a good idea. A couple of our first royalty cheques went to paying for that car.”
The Capitol was the perfect venue for classics like Big League, The Untouchable One and Good Times, which were all in the first act. The theatre provided a warm and deep-end to the music that you typically don’t get in arenas or hollow halls – the depth gave the tunes a bit of style. He had a little difficulty with his guitar during Good Times, but continued to sing the song with nothing but Ken Greer’s steel pedal and keyboards to accompany him. Although not planned, Good Times had some magical moments and now that I’ve heard it with only keyboards, I actually prefer it that way and would love to hear a full version of the song sung to only keyboards.
The Red Rider members had a few moments to shine in the second set, especially with the classics Human Race and Lunatic Fringe. Greer bounced between keyboards, steel pedal and guitar, sometimes within seconds of each other, while drummer Davide Direnzo pounded the emphasizing beats of Human Race which opened the set. Bassist Jeff Jones really drove home Human Race – the pulsating bass line is really the defining instrument in the song and sounds phenomenal live.
The second set was rounded out with big radio hits Life Is A Highway, No Regrets and a unique cover of George Jones’ Tennessee Whiskey, which was given a Ragged Ass Road kind of swagger.
Tom Cochrane and Red Rider continue their trek across Ontario with a show in Brantford tonight.
Tom Cochrane and Red Rider
Mad Mad World
Brave and Crazy
The Untouchable One
I Wish You Well (acoustic)
Avenue A (acoustic)
Bird On A Wire (acoustic Leonard Cohen cover)
Good Times (acoustic)
Tennessee Whiskey (George Jones cover)
Life Is A Highway
The Boy Inside The Man (acoustic)