“Do what you have to do before you leave”, Thrush Hermit sang during their second encore, yes, second and that line could well have been the impetus behind the Halifax band’s reunion tour.
Ian McGettigan, Cliff Gibb, Rob Benvie and of course Joel Plaskett played the intimate setting of the Red Dog in Peterborough Wednesday night and in the words of the cliche-ridden music writer they rawked the joint. It was part of a tour that brings them to Lee’s Palace in Toronto for three shows this weekend.
Imagine all your favourite licks from Zeppelin, Sabbath, the Who, AC/DC and then let them melt in some East Coast black rain. That’s the sound of Thrush Hermit. Now wrap it around tales of teenage afterschool shenanigans. Thrush Hermit brought that all back – the joy of just being with friends. On stage it was really that – just four friends hanging out, rocking out, having fun. Behind them a vivid reminder of why; a large ROCK & ROLL neon sign. Yes they brought the sign too. They brought it all, lock, stock and two smoking guitarists.
Plaskett in particular it seemed, (who has become one of Canada’s favourite folkies with a mantle of awards), was intent on wringing what he could from his duct-taped guitar. HIs sinewy frame bent into the guitar as he sang out his languid rhymes of life as a Maritime lad. On an extended solo during the sludgy metal riffage of Violent Dreams, he yelled into the strings and just about throttled the instrument. It was a mighty battle that he barely won.
Drummer Gibb was a revelation pounding deep into his kit, warping his sticks which in the lights were like two widely ribbed fans. Brilliant stuff. Benvie added keyboard to his skills as axeman and singer while bassist McGettigan brought the bottom end to the top of the mix.
By my reckoning the band played all of the classic Clayton Park album as well as selections from Sweet Homewrecker and the Great Pacific Ocean during the 90 minute set, including The Day We Hit The Coast, Headin’ South, (Oh Man) What To Do and Oh My Soul. They encored with Uneventful, openers the Meligrove came up and sang I’m Sorry If Your Heart Has No More Room and then they shut it all down with From The Back Of The Film.
This gig was described by the band at one point as being planned as a quiet night for them. Ha, it was anything but with the 200 plus crowd singing along fully familiar with the band’s story and music.
A second encore was demanded.
So take the band’s advice. Do what you have to do before you leave and if means reforming a band you had with your teenage mates then do it. From the obvious fun onstage it looked like these four pals are having the time of their lives, all over again.