Updated: Feb 6
Ajax, ON - Ealier this year, I wrote an article, wondering when Durham Region would see the return of live music. Well, for the Town of Ajax, the summer of 2022 saw the return of the "Summer in the Square" concert series after a 2 year Covid-19 hiatus. Unfortunately, I had not been able to attend any of these Wednesday evening shows until Wednesday August 31. This was the last date of the summer, and the town had managed to schedule the Original Eagles Tribute Band, Hotel California.
Without having seen any of the previous shows this summer, if any of them were bigger than this performance, then I'd be rendered speechless. The Town of Ajax's events team along with sponsor TD Bank, always brings in some of the biggest local tributes, and with all due respect to the rest that performed during this free concert series this summer, this was an Eagles Tribute.
I knew something special was about to happen when I arrived at the venue (Pat Bayly Square) to prepare for my shoot for the evening. Tonight, I was shooting for the town, through the Ajax Photography Club. As I seeked out a few dear friends, who are always sitting in the front row, I just did not see them. The place was already jam packed with people! Hundreds of them. All of them primed and ready for an end of summer evening of Eagles music.
I have to admit, once the show started, meandering through the crowd to try to get some different points of view from my camera was not easy. There was literally, very little room to move. By the end of the evening, the fun was clearly in full force, but unfortunately, this also brings some unwanted challenges on occasion. More on this later, just keep on reading as things were about to get really wild!!
Hotel California is The Original Eagles Tribute. They have been playing Eagles music since 1986. That's over 30 years and they have toured (and continue to tour) all over the world. With band members that have performed with the likes of The Guess Who, April Wine, Glass Tiger and more, it is a true honour for me to have been a part of this show in Durham Region. Photographing concerts has humbled me to no end, and I am very grateful. Anybody who was at this show in Ajax on August 31 should also feel just as thrilled to have witnessed this event... for free no doubt!
Andy Lapointe - Bass Guitar and vocals, Andy has been a member since 1987
Al Langlade - Guitars and Vocals, Al is the man who gets the crowd going
Kevin O'Donnell - Drums and Vocals, Kevin is the Don Henley of the band
Brian May - Guitars and Vocals, Brian was actually a fill in for Mike Dimoulas, the original band member who has been on hiatus while he travels the world
With each show I attend, it becomes clearer to me that I'm in the minority when it comes to being completely immersed in the experience. I love to be on my feet an being into the concert. It's simply not the case with most, especially as we age. This evening was not much different, with most of my recent experiences. At least at the get go. This was a little surprising, given the amount of people that piled into the venue early.
There were a number of folks off to the side of stage that were fully engaged from the start of the evening. There was line dancing, singing, and air guitar playing as the band progressed through their set. The rest of the crowd needed little more coaxing however.
Guitarist/Vocalist Al Langlade is known for getting the crowd motivated, and he certainly got this crowd going, through his constant engagement between songs, speaking to the crowd, and expressing his gratitude for their presence. The rest of the band also did their share. These guys all did a great job in engaging the crowd as we saw drummer Kevin O'Donnell leave his kit early in the set to come up front and address the crowd. He wanted a selfie with the band and the crowd in the background... for his mother!
We also saw bass guitarist Andy Lapointe frequently fist bumping the crowd, and we even saw him venture out off the stage, interacting with the crowd while he played his bass and near the end of the gig, Al Langlade ran out to the crowd, also with guitar in hand.
By the end of the night, the place was truly rocking. The area in front of the stage was completely jammed as the fans left their seats to come up for a dance. Everybody was singing, and having a great time. And then a couple things happened that could have gone south. At one point, one of the fans was having such a great time, she popped up onto the stage and started singing to the crowd into the microphone. After being coerced off stage, security arrived to ensure another similar incident did not happen. But it did. Another fan walked up from side stage. This time, security was there and able to intervene. She wasn't interested in getting off the stage however. The end result in this instance is that security was able to remove the lady as I watched her walk away.
What all seems like simple, innocent fun, could actually end up with somebody getting injured, and that's the last thing we should all want. The band is there to have a good time, as are the fans. It's important that we're all doing the right thing... always! We want these types of events to continue. Covid has been hard on all of us. Let's not ruin a good thing!
All in all, this was a fantastic evening. In asking some other friends at the event, it seemed like this one brought the largest crowd of the summer series. I certainly can't imagine a larger event than this show, given the location. Fun times abound and I can't wait to see what the summer of 2023 brings.
One of These Nights
Peaceful Easy Feeling
Take it to the Limit
Rocky Mountain Way
Life's Been Good
Seven Bridges Road
Take it Easy
- guitar solo (Al Langlade)