Concert Review: Jefferson Starship, August 20, CNE Bandshell


I love going to the CNE. I also have a pretty big soft spot for classic rock acts, so it works out well for me that every year the Ex plays host to at least a couple of vintage classic rockers. This year is no exception, with everybody’s favourite rock n roll hoser granddad Randy Bachman hitting the Bandshell for opening night and 60s/70s survivors Jefferson Starship taking to the stage the following night.

Jefferson Starship has a bit of a weird history, maybe being unique as a band that morphed from it’s original incarnation (Jefferson Airplane) into a different band with some of the same members and a similar name, then into yet another similarly named band that also shared some members (Starship). Also, each of those bands have reunited at some point over the years and there is now apparently a version of Starship that still exists concurrently with Jefferson Starship. I’m not sure if there are any other bands with similar histories. And no, bands like Creedence Clearwater Revisited or The Orchestra don’t count.

In keeping with the band’s somewhat unique history, they ended up playing kind of a unique show at The Ex. Due to the nationwide broadcast of the evening’s final Tragically Hip concert being screened pretty much everywhere there was a screen, including the CNE Bandshell stage, Jefferson Starship would end up taking to the stage earlier than most Bandshell shows. They probably didn’t mind though since it seems they ended up taking in the Hip concert as well:

“Is there anything you guys wanna hear?” offered up singer Cathy Richardson towards the end of the set. When someone shouted out Starship’s “We Built This City,” Richardson replied, “Yeah we can play that,” and they did, although maybe this is Exhibit A in the case against taking requests from audience members as it sounded a bit wobbly with Richardson and original member David Freiberg’s voices never quite coming together. I got the feeling that maybe they didn’t plan on playing that one.

Overall, the show was a bit of a hit and miss affair, though they did redeem themselves with a solid performance of “Jane” that featured Richardson absolutely smashing the shit out of her cowbell and culminated in Freiberg wailing away at the end. For a man in his late 70s, Freiberg’s got a pretty powerful voice. They ended their set off with a satisfying version of the Jefferson Airplane classic “Somebody to Love” that got a few people up on their feet and dancing before coming back for an encore of “Volunteers.” Also of note was their performance of “Sketches Of China” which they dedicated to the late Paul Kantner, although I did find it very strange when a fan in the crowd shouted out, “I know!” in response to Richardson saying, “We lost Paul Kantner this year.” Did this person think this made them seem like more of a fan? Who knows? People are weird sometimes.

Posted on by Paul in Concerts