[This is another report from Ross MacDonald. – AC]
Canada’s alt-rock supergroup Anyway Gang played in Ottawa, and it wasn’t without a last-minute crisis. This time it wasn’t brought on by COVID, but by mother nature. Because of the ongoing fallout from the powerful storm a couple of days earlier, the City of Ottawa decided to shut down all city-run facilities, including Club SAW; leaving the promoter Spectrasonic scrambling to find an alternate site. This is where the Rainbow Bistro https://therainbow.ca/ stepped in, and stepped up. Although a little tighter than the original venue, the Rainbow is an excellent facility to catch an intimate show.
The evening started with the folk-rock sounds of Calgary’s Wyatt C. Louis, an indie artist hailing from Calgary, whose music was a balance of rhythmic grooves and soul-inspired vocals.
The light-hearted theme of the evening was set when Anyway Gang used the theme from Ghostbusters as their entrance music. The four bandmembers lined up along the front of the stage with arms outstretched and head-nodding while the audience yelled out “Who you gonna call? Ghostbusters!”
It was convenient that the band arranged themselves at the front of the stage in alphabetical order from left to right: Dave Monks (from Tokyo Police Club). Chris Murphy (Sloan), Sam Roberts (with his own Sam Roberts Band), and Menno Versteeg (formerly of Hollerado). They started their show hard and fast with their debut hit single ‘Big Night’, the entire audience singing along in the chorus.
It is often said that supergroups can suffer from a clash of egos; that doesn’t seem possible with Anyway Gang because throughout the night the band was constantly throwing out jabs, keeping each other in check. Sam and Menno berated poor Chris, accusing him of using props when he was reading the lyrics from a sheet during one of their songs.
The playful banter between Dave, Chris, Sam, and Menno continued throughout the night. The humour and upbeat music were exactly what everyone needed after the struggles of the past couple of years, and continued anguish from the recent storm damage. And if three guitars, and a bass, weren’t enough sound, Anyway Gang was backed up on stage by Menno’s former bandmate Nixon Boyd on guitar as well as Anne Douris on keys and Adam Hindle on drums.
Hometown favourite Menno reflected that The Rainbow was fitting for them to play because his first-ever live show was as a teenager at an open mic night there; he was back where it all began. This must have been inspiring to Menno because halfway through playing their latest single ‘Reckless Reckless’ Menno broke into a harmonica solo reminiscent of Stevie Wonder.
The night finished with a three-song encore that included a reprise of ‘Big Night’, which it certainly was!
Dave Monks – vocals, bass
Chris Murphy – vocals, guitar
Sam Roberts – vocals, guitar
Menno Versteeg – vocals, guitar