[What happened when Big Sugar played Ottawa? Words and photos by Laura Collins. – AC]
“Ottawa’s jam packed Bronson Centre was the host to Big Sugar’s Heated 25th Anniversary Tour Thursday night. One of Canada’s most beloved musicians of the past three decades, the band has earned multiple gold and platinum records, and has been nominated for several Juno awards over the years.
After the tragic passing of long-time bassist Garry Lowe four years ago, the front man Gordie Johnson took some time to regroup, and put together a new young rhythm section to celebrate Heated‘s 25th anniversary tour.
Instead of the bigger ensemble we’re normally used to seeing, the band took the stage as a dynamic trio with Johnson, the brilliant young drummer Root Valach, and Garry Lowe’s son Ben Lowe on bass.
In Gordie Johnson’s own words quoted from the band’s website, bringing Lowe on board made complete sense. “Our music has always been about roots and culture, and this is a perfect piece of that evolution. You can hear Big Sugar in Ben’s DNA.”
Johnson is absolutely correct. During the almost three hour show, the band played flawlessly together, Lowe’s and Valach’s rhythm section working seamlessly with Johnson’s groovy guitars. Over the course of the show, Johnson’s signature double necks came out multiple times, and the audience got to enjoy the melodic passages of his harmonious guitar solos.
The band started the first half of their set playing Heated in its entirety, including hits such as “Better Get Used To It”, “The Scene” and “Turn the Lights On”, which got the crowd dancing and cheering wildly. After a brief intermission, the trio got the audience going again with over an hour of their best tunes from over the years.
Switching smoothly between blues and reggae rock, Johnson seemed to enjoy every moment on stage and took his time to appreciate his audience.
Big Sugar has once again proven they’re still one of Canada’s loudest bands.