Before the show it was a bit of a classic rock love fest and I saw more gears than at a 4 wheel drive swap meet. Shirts everywhere that sported the infamous and unmistakable piece of machinery that identifies the iconic Canadian band BTO. The middle age-plus show goers conversed amongst themselves about how much they love BTO and how the band was a soundtrack for their high school years. They knew they were in for a great show.
I was in a trance in the photopit for the first 3 songs so I couldn’t really gauge the crowd’s reaction but these rockers that originated in Winnipeg with the likes of Neil Young and Burton Cummings wasted no time in giving the people what they came for. First up was the gear-head anthem “Roll on Down The Highway” setting the stage for the rest of the show with the throttle wide open. After I’d put my camera away and found my seats about 20 rows from the stage I settled in for the music. Let me be clear about something I love this band and Randy’s other band (The Guess Who) and I think he ranks right up there with Led Zeppelin and The Stones as far as his contributions to the annals of rock & roll. Okay enough gushing for now.
A really weird thing happened at the show though, I happened to be in the no standing section(apparently) I missed that memo but the crowd on the entire right side of stage stood for the whole show and the crowd on the left side sat for the whole show, except for me, my friend and about 3 other rebels out of probably a thousand people on our side. So the show goes on for a while and all of a sudden Randy plays the first three notes of “American Woman” and the crowd on the left jumps to their feet in thunderous applause and now they are partying. They are thinking to themselves, “hey that’s that song I heard on KZOK”…..”this what I came here for”. Of course after Fred Turner had belted out the last words originally made famous by Burton Cummings and Randy had played the notes of one the most recognizable songs in music history, the crowd on the left went back to their posts, where they remained for most of the show. I still cannot figure what this docile bunch expected from this show, maybe they were just really old or something….that said, none of the crowd on that side to be the age of the men on stage so that argument is invalid.
The people on the other side of the venue though….lookout….they were having a blast(as were we and our 3 lone standing rebels), they were dancing in the aisles as Fred Turner pounded on his 6-String bass and Randy Bachman delivered monster guitar riff after monster guitar riff. They shouted at the top of their lungs and sang along with every song, both the hits and the lesser known but just as great “Blue Collar”, “Hey You” and possibly one of the bands greatest yet somehow overlooked songs “Rock Is My Life and This Is My Song”….this is anthemic rock at it’s finest, which of course always must include a call to action. The crowd on the right obliged and they put their hands in the air every time the chorus got to that part.
When we come into a new town – Everybody’s there
When we play our music – Hands are in the air
One thing that Randy Bachman and Fred Turner have fallen victim to over the years is that because of the brilliant songwriting, some people just don’t realize how amazing these guys are at their instruments. The playing gets over shadowed by the songs themselves. Bachman is no doubt on the level of many of his colleagues on the classic rock circuit and he was just inducted into the Musicians Hall Of Fame. Turner simply put is still one of the best bass players on the planet. The encore was “Let It Ride” & “Taking Care Of Business” and while they might not look the part of rockstars these days but do not kid yourself these guys are some of the finest musicians and showman you will ever see in your life and they rock just as hard as they ever did.
For more pictures of the show click here: