Concert Review: Cold Specks, Joel Plaskett, Rich Aucoin, July 14, Nathan Phillips Square


As a part of the celebrations associated with the Pan Am Games, the City of Toronto has been hosting a series of concerts in a few locations around the city, presumably to build up excitement for the games and to bring a bit of a party vibe to the city. With that in mind, Rich Aucoin was a smart booking for Panamania. With confetti cannons, an audience invasion, and wacky videos flashing across the screen, Aucoin brought the party – and that was just during the one song I caught from him. Aucoin is so dedicated to pleasing the people, he even put his cell number up on the screen with an offer to send a zip file with all of his music in it to anyone who texted him. Good times.

Following Aucoin on the adjacent stage was Cold Specks. And if the band’s moody, darker sounds weren’t an indication that the vibe would be a bit different from Aucoin’s set (though no less enjoyable), the dark yet hilarious stage banter certainly would have given it away: “This next song is a morbid tune about decapitation. I hope you enjoy it!” and “Some of us flew in from the UK this afternoon, so I’m wearing these shades to hide my cold dead eyes. Here’s another morbid tune.” The dark grey storm clouds that appeared overhead during their set seemed somehow fitting.

And while the storm did hold off for Cold Specks, the rain was coming, so a short break at a nearby pub for a pint was a smart move. After a brief rainfall, we returned to the stage to see Joel Plaskett and The Emergency charm a fairly large crowd as they played the hits along with a number of songs off of Plaskett’s latest, The Park Avenue Sobriety Test, initiating a few singalongs along the way . “Panamania! I guess that makes you all Panamaniacs!” said Plaskett before adding that they were considering opening with Van Halen’s “Panama.” Plaskett’s not afraid to get a bit corny – it’s one of his strengths really. He’s a good showman, and even if most of his tricks are old hat once you’ve seen him a few times, it’s never not fun.

Posted on by Paul in Concerts