My friend Rich asked if I was up to accompany him and his son Andrew to Toronto for a few days. They’re two of my favorite people, so naturally, I said yes.
Yes, I was in Toronto just a month ago with Joe, but that was more of a drive-by since we only stopped at the Hockey Hall of Fame on our dash to Alaska. This time we will stay in the city for four nights and really do the town. As usual, I left the planning to Rich and, again as usual, he came through with a great four days of concerts, baseball and comedy.
I left Marshfield Sunday morning for the drive to Rich’s house a few minutes behind schedule but still in plenty of time. After about 25 miles, I realized I had committed the cardinal sin of forgetting my passport back at home. I called Rich and turned back. Rich and Andrew would meet me there and we would head west. I am an idiot sometimes.
Rich drove for two hours and then I took over for a while before Rich took the wheel in western NY for the final 120 miles to Toronto. The border crossing was slow as was the traffic on the QEW. How do five lanes fill up like that on a Sunday?
We decided that we couldn’t make the hotel in time for our first event, the Rascals live concert/play at 7 pm, so we went directly to the Royal Alexandra Theatre and got seated about ten minutes in.
The show was great. Our last row balcony seats were all that was left in our price range when we ordered, but the sound and the view in this gorgeous theatre were spot on.
The original band was onstage but they told their story via pre-recorded video played on a huge screen at the back of the stage. Between the AV segments, they played 28 of their songs in chronological order which means that missing 10 minutes meant missing a couple of obscure early cuts that were dear to the band but we would never have heard of.
The part interview, part re-enacted history followed the usual “Behind The Music” storyline: Band pioneers unique sound in early 60s, refuses to compromise with the suits and, after dramatically arduous journey, makes it big. Band makes hit after hit and seems on the edge of superstardom. Band discovers drugs and groupies. Band bickers and acts like assholes. Key member quits. Band dissolves.
Then, 35+ years later, they reform for their RnR HoF induction and the magic is back!
Well, sort of. The band totally rocked but the vocals were a bit shaky. Eddie Brigatti in particular seemed to have lost quite a bit off his fastball. His soft opening vocal on one of my favorites, “How Can I Be Sure” was totally out of control but he came through big in the choruses where the three backup singers could help carry the load.
All in all, we knew about 12 of the 28 songs, the sound was great and the crowed roared along with all the hits. The audience was “age appropriate” for the Rascals, meaning everyone was about my age. And they were Canadian, so the only folks who got up and danced at their seats were those with no one seated behind them. Really.
So we headed back to register at the Super 8 and then off for a tasty bar burger dinner at 10 pm.
On the road again…