It’s been a while…


2 to go

I had (some time ago) promised to list my five favourite concerts.  The first three included James Taylor, Lunch at Allen’s and Ex Cathedra (partially attributable to venue).  2 to go…

Andrae Crouch (Saunders Secondary School auditorium, London, ON circa 1975)

Andrae at the piano

If my previous selection was partially based on the concert venue, this choice could be included in spite of its location.  A high school auditorium is hardly acoustic nirvana at the best of times.  And, when you throw in a grand piano in wretched condition (some notes unplayable and generally out of tune), expectations for a memorable concert are considerably reduced.  And yet… when Andrae Crouch sat down at the piano (essentially a solo performance with a second musician providing “colour” on a synth), magic happened.  His energy, musicianship, sincerity and considerable body of self-composed material (even at this point in his career) resulted in a performance which I still cherish…and its success led to his return a few months later with “The Disciples” in a larger venue.  There are lots of samples of his solo work to be found on Youtube (and I’ve included some in previous posts…as well as alluding to this particular concert).  But he’s always worth a repeat visit… here he is (from 1975) performing at a Billy Graham crusade (skip in to about 3:15 if you want to get directly to the song [Through It All…one of his signature compositions])

The Association (1971 at Alumni Hall, London, 1972 at Ontario Place, Toronto and 1983 at BB McGoons in Toronto)

The Association circa 1968
  The Association circa 1968

Well, it won’t surprise the occasional reader of this blog to see these guys included.  But I have exercised editorial control and included three performances which each had a distinctive reason for inclusion.


After a long period of anticipation (since the band’s initial success in 1966), I finally had an opportunity to see them perform in a venue not so far from my home (an hour by car).  Simply put, it was a joy to hear and see (performed live) what I had experienced only on record.  The band had released Stop Your Motor earlier that year and I was excited to hear these new songs along with their considerable body of prior hits.  My only regret was that, while Jules Alexander had returned to the group after an absence of several years, Russ Giguere had recently left The Association to work on a solo album (Hexagram 16).  And, as a bonus, I was able to bring my girlfriend (now wife) along!  Now the following recording is really for the Association fans…I found it on Youtube [where else!]…it’s an audio [only] recording from a 1970 concert in New York.  It’s about 50 minutes long and the quality is marginal but…it’s The Association!


This time I was boarding in London and working a summer job (saving for university).  I heard that The Association was playing Ontario Place (waterfront, Toront0) and knew I just had to see them again.  The problem… I was working both the day of/day following the concert.  Fortunately the shift was 7:00-3:30 and, considerable effort and haste, I was able to make the train station just in time to catch a departure for Toronto shortly after 4:00.  A two plus hour journey brought me to Union Station around 6:30.  I had virtually no experience in negotiating the city but (thanks to the kindness of strangers) was able to reach the venue in time to find a seat well back in the outdoor amphitheatre.  Two hours of bliss (this time on the heels of the release of Waterbeds in Trinidad) and I was on my way back to London (about 11:00 as I remember).  I don’t recall how I got home and, other than Jane, no one was the wiser for my evening absence.  I was just a tad tired going to work the next day, however…

The Association Waterbeds in Trinidad
The Association           Waterbeds in Trinidad


It may not measure up to someone attending Woodstock (1969), but it was one of my more adventurous musical exploits.  In retrospect, my memory of that concert was made the more poignant with the subsequent death of bassist Brian Cole a few days later.


What made this 1983 concert memorable was the intimacy of the venue.  The band (newly reformed in 1979) was booked at this night spot (BB McGoons) in Toronto… but the event was not especially well publicized.  I don’t even remember how I heard of it ‘way off in London.  But I did…and Jane and I made our way to Toronto (another week night concert between work days!)  When I say not well publicized, I mean that a handful of audience members/customers had the considerable talents of the band to themselves for the evening.  Good acoustics/great band/tiny audience… sound almost perfect?  It really was.  Along with the expected hits was some material being developed for a possible new album.  Not only that, I actually had the opportunity to speak (briefly) with Terry Kirkman (of the band) at the end of the first show and, at the insistence of management (wanting BIC [bums in chairs]) we stayed for the second.  A late night to be sure but a good night!  Here’s a bit of the “regrouped” sound from 1983… performing a 1967 nugget…

  So there are my top 5… and here are 10 runners-up… (with brief comment)…

  1.  Leonard Cohen (Centennial Hall, London)  Cohen voice.  Cohen poetry.  Cohen humour.  What more can you say?
  2.  Brian Wilson (Circle in the Square, Kitchener/Massey Hall, Toronto)  I’ve seen him (sortof) with The Beach Boys and twice as a solo performer.  Super show in Kitchener in 2011.  Wonderful band behind him.  Again this year (2016) in Toronto.  A bit ragged in places but… any performance of the full Pet Sounds album live is always worth the price of admission.
  3.  Jay and the Americans (Western Fair, London)  I just remember that Jay Black really does have a good voice.
  4.  The Righteous Brothers (Western Fair, London)  Good stuff but don’t mess with Unchained Melody.
  5.  Bob Dylan (Alumni Hall, London)  A Dylan performance is always an event.  But I’m still amused at requiring about two minutes to recognize one of his hits (I knew the song…just not his interpretation that night!)
  6.  Van Morrison (Ontario Place, Toronto)  Now I really do like Van Morrison.  But he was in a “big band interpretation of all his hits” mode and not especially engaged with the audience.  Maybe another time…
  7.  George Beverley Shea (Centennial Hall, London)  If you are of a certain age and background, you will understand when I say it was special to “sing along with George” on How Great Thou Art.
  8.  Gordon Lightfoot (Stratford Festival, Stratford)  That distinctive, if now fragile, voice.  His songs define Canadian folk music.
  9.  Burton Cummings (Western Fair, London)  He of “Guess Who” fame does just fine on the stage by himself.  A great concert…
  10. Michael Jackson (This Is It, dvd)  I’m cheating here… I would never have seen the concert.  Then again, no one did.  But… seeing the footage from this homage to the planned show, you have to wonder what might have been…

Speaking of “what might have been”…I’m interested in seeing the new Ron Howard documentary on The Beatles (Eight Days a Week: The Touring Years) being released in November.


and… 50!

Can you believe it!

Fifty years this month since…

Fifty years this month since Terry Kirkman et al turned his song into a #1 hit (and #2 for the year 1966)…

And… 50 years (as of October) since…


A question to be answered next month!




One thought on “2 10 and 50…

  1. I was lucky enough to go to two Andrae Crouch concerts .. Wonderful experience ..

    Thanks Bruce for the recall..

    Love .. Mom G

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