Updated: Feb 6
Toronto, ON - From Canada's East Coast, Antogonish, NS to be exact, The Trews have been in the upper echelon of Canada's music scene for close to 20 years. Their first album House of Ill Fame was released in 2003, which went Gold in Canada. It was from this debut release when I first saw The Trews, at a Pool Hall of all places, called Le Skratch, in Oshawa, ON.
Since that time, the band has become one of Canada's household names in Rock and Roll. They have played tours and festivals all over North America, but strangely enough, they had never played Toronto's Outdoor Summer Venue of choice, Budweiser Stage. We've all heard the saying "All good things must come to an end". Well, all bad things must come to an end as well. And on July 6, 2022, history was made as The Trews played their first gig at this historical venue. And history was made!
In Support of "The Black Crowes Presents: Shake Your Money Maker" tour (I shot this show for Digital Beat Magazine), The Trews opened the festivities at the 16,000 seat Amphitheatre. They opened the set on this night with the House of Ill Fame track "Not Ready To Go", and they weren't about to leave without making an impression for their first appearance at the venue.
Colin MacDonald - Lead Vocals/Guitar
John-Angus MacDonald - Lead Guitar/Vocals
Jack Syperek - Bass Guitar/Vocals
Chris Gormley - Drums
Jeff Heisholt - Keyboards
As a concert photographer, at a larger venue like this, there are rules that one must abide by. Typically, you are only able to shoot the first 2 or 3 songs of each set. As a reviewer, I then have to head to my seat, but not before bringing my photography gear to Guest Services. You cannot bring your equipment to your seat. This unfortunately forces you to miss a chunk of the set, but something that was super cool on this evening, is that The Trews allowed the full show to be photographed. A rarity, and it allowed me to catch the full set.
Since I was present for the whole show, it allowed me to fully immerse myself in the experience of this great band who now bases themselves out of Hamilton, ON. The brothers, along with the only other mainstay from the beginning, bassist Jack Syperek have put together a solid library of hits, many of which were played on this evening.
Not Ready to Go
So She's Leaving
Can’t Afford to Be Lonely
I Wanna Play
Hope & Ruin
Enemy (John on lead vocal)
Highway of Heroes
Poor Ol' Broken Hearted Me
Tired of Waiting
Hold Me in Your Arms / Who Do You Love? / Hold in Your Arms
Earlier this year, Canada lost one of it's music icons in Rockin' Ronny Hawkins. During the set, frontman Colin MacDonald shared a story about when The Trews met this legend at his Peterborough, ON mansion earlier in their career. Ronny Hawkins told the band that they were hotter than the left side of the Devil's ass... and that that was the hot side! At this, the crowd gives out a laugh, but the story doesn't end there. You see, Big Sugar front man Gordie Johnson produced The Trews' debut album and when the guys told Gordie what Ronnie had said to them, Gordie gave out a big laugh. Apparently, Ronnie Hawkins had told Big Sugar the exact same thing!!
With history, amazing Canadian content, guitar solos on speaker stacks, and singing through megaphones during "Hold Me, In Your Arms", this is one show I will file away as a memory keeper! All thanks to these gentleman from Canada's East Coast, where I'm proud to say I have my roots.
I get a certain sense of "WOW" when I think back to seeing bands when they've first started out. Playing in small bars, eventually moving up to local Music Halls, and then the sky's the limit. Sometimes, they end up playing 16,000 seat venues. I have a handful of concerts I cherish because of this, and it's why I continue to go see local acts like Oshawa's Mellohoney. The Beatles', U2s and Metallicas of the world all started out small. Imagine seeing them in a bar with 50 or even 25 people present? Phenominal! My advice? Go catch the next The Trews at your local Live Music venue. You never know what gold you'll strike!
Let us know your favourite story about seeing a popular band in a tiny venue in the comments section, and click below to see the rest of the photos from this concert.