Concert Review: April Wine, August 27, CNE Bandshell


A few songs in to April Wine’s set, some dude in the crowd flipped out and tried to get into a fight with someone else. He returned a bit later before being subdued by some audience members and then swarmed by security, who likely escorted him out of the show. I’m not really sure what set him off, but it seemed to come from out of nowhere and wasn’t really what I was expecting at a show by some Canrock senior citizens, er, elder statesmen. It seemed almost more like something you’d see in the pit at a Cro-Mags show, but whatever. Interestingly, this all happened while the band played “Rock and Roll is a Vicious Game.” From the looks of that little incident, it certainly can be a vicious game. However, April Wine are all about the good times and the band, most likely unaware of any of this, followed that tune up with “Say Hello,” thus restoring the balance of good times.

April Wine have had a lot of hits over the years and they played all of the hits, but for me, the highlight of their set would have to be their cover of King Crimson’s “21st Century Schizoid Man,” which the band recorded on 1979’s Harder … Faster.  It was a highlight not just because it’s a great song but because it worked as a showcase for the band to show off their musical talents a bit. They jammed out on some solos that took the song into a direction more bluesy than proggy at times, though it still got a bit proggy.  After all, it’s a King Crimson song and April Wine’s current bassist Richard Lanthier did once play in a Yes tribute band so there’s bound to be a bit of prog.  Prog rock (or at least proto-prog) also made it’s influence known during “I Like To Rock” when the rest of the band left the stage and left drummer Roy “Nip” Nichol to his own devices for an Iron Butterfly-esque drum solo that saw him at one point abandon his sticks and begin playing his entire kit with his hands.  Impressive stuff.  They closed things off with “Roller” before returning to the stage to squeeze in a quick encore with “Oowatanite.”

Opening up the show were Orillia hard rockers Bleeker Ridge who reminded me of all those early 90s hard rock bands that grunge was supposed to have killed but who thrived regardless. Shades of Candlebox and Ugly Kid Joe. While not exactly my cup of tea, I will admit that they put on an energetic show.  Also, props to the guitarist for having “Fuck Marineland” scrawled onto the back of his shirt in big block letters.  Like rock and roll, Marineland is also a vicious game.

Posted on by Paul in Concerts