After 1,243 days of renovation and restoration, Massey Hall reopens. It’s awesome.

Massey Hall, Hart Massey’s gift to the city of Toronto back in 1894, reopens tonight after about three-and-a-half years of renovation and restoration, costing somewhere around $184 million. It’s brilliant.

Here’s a list of changes/improvements:

  • The original glorious plaster ceiling has been restored.
  • The original stained glass windows have been completely redone. They’re visible for the first time since the 1920s.
  • Every seat is brand new.
  • Although there are still some obscured sightlines–you just can’t get rid of those support columns–there are more seats with a better view.
  • Capacity for a seated audience is around 2,525. If the seats on the main floor are removed (and they can disappear in about four hours using special equipent that stores them under the stage), capacity grows to about 2,800.
  • Now in-house PA
  • New dressing rooms (the old ones were small and awful).
  • A loading dock! There was no back-of-house in the old days and all gear had to humped through the front doors on Shuter Street. No more.
  • More bars/lounges
  • More washrooms.
  • New hallways (“passerells”) hanging off the building to allow for easier and faster access to/from all seats on all levels.

There’s more to come, too, with a larger complex on the same block called The Allied Music Centre.

  • A new 500-person capacity venue in the new tower next door that will also make a very nice dance club. It should be ready by sometime in February.
  • Artist development facilities in an area called Level 6, also next door. (Opening mid-2022)
  • A state-of-the-art recording studio that will allow for live recordings to be made from practically anywhere in the complex. The studio will be named after Deane Cameron, the former CEO of the place who died of a heart attack while renovations were ongoing. (Opening mid-2022)

Gordon Lightfoot was the last to perform at Massey Hall before the lights went out on July 1, 2018. He’ll be the first to perform in the renovated hall tonight (November 25). Lightfoot has played Massey Hall more than 170 times. No one is even close to that.

Toronto is blessed to have such a place.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

5 thoughts on “After 1,243 days of renovation and restoration, Massey Hall reopens. It’s awesome.

  • November 25, 2021 at 10:15 am
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    Someone should do something like this too Barrymores in Ottawa. It’s no Massey Hall, but it should be restored. It was a great venue, now it’s a shit hole. Not even sure they are still open. If they are they don’t do shows anymore, more of a 80s and 90s wasted dancehall.

    Reply
  • November 25, 2021 at 2:02 pm
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    My only show at Massey Hall? Men at Work in 82/83 on Hallowe’en night. First row of the lower balcony. I was 12 or 13.

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  • November 25, 2021 at 5:19 pm
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    Saw Robin Wiliams there in ’86. Hi-larious.

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  • November 26, 2021 at 4:26 am
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    God, when I think of how many awesome shows I have seen in that place over the years! The last time I was there, it was to see Buffy Sainte Marie and Richie Havens, but prior to that, Gordon Lightfoot at least 13 times (the last time was for his Salute tour), Patti Smith, Roxy Music with Rough Trade, Helix and Headpins, Marillion, The Brian Setzer Orchestra, The Mission with The Wonderstuff, Renaissance, The Strawbs, Jeff Beck. I’m sure there were others. It has always been an amazing venue and the restoration looks fantastic!

    Reply
  • November 29, 2021 at 5:14 pm
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    Limited edition coffee table book That Night at Massey Hall is a cherished celebration of one the world’s most iconic concert venues, Toronto’s Massey Hall. Featuring such artists as Gordon Lightfoot, David Gilmour, The Tragically Hip,Eddie Vedder, Blue Rodeo, Bob Dylan, U2, Neil Young, Rush, The Alarm, The Pixies, Bruce Springsteen, Joni Mitchell, Cream: check it out here: http://www.ThatNightatMasseyHall.ca

    Reply

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