Photos and a review of Big Wreck in Ottawa

[Photographer Ross MacDonald and reviewer Karen Coughtrey were at it again. – AC]

The busyness of the holiday season couldn’t keep a sold out crowd away from a triple bill at the Bronson Centre in Ottawa on Thursday night. Big Wreck was the headlining main draw but the night was opened by the astounding Daniel Greaves, frontman of The Watchmen , and Texas King.

Daniel Greaves got the night off to a strong start but surprised the crowd by starting early. Taking the stage and sitting alone at his piano he had the crowd rapt as he opened with a beautiful rendition of Zach Bryan’s ‘Something In The Orange’.

The audience continued to be enthralled as he sang songs from his former bands ‘Balancing’ from Doctor and ‘All Uncovered’ from The Watchmen. The latter featured an astounding harmonica solo which he joked was the “Def Leppard of Harmonica Solos.”

Daniel appeared to be in a great mood and he was full of jokes including recounting a time as a child he visited the hospital with his mom as part of take your kid to work day and thought that instead of the incessant beeping machines they should put a harmonica in the mouths of patients facing end of life to give a more musical sound to their last breath.

Another funny moment came when he bet on the crowd being mostly familiar with the work of Harry Styles. After finishing singing ‘Phone Call’ he claimed he wrote his next song while singing the last and proceeded to sing Harry’s big hit ‘Watermelon Sugar High’ bringing a deep gravity to the song which is normally purely a work of bubblegum pop.

He would end his set, to the delight of the crowd, with The Watchmen’s big hit ‘Stereo’.

Texas King were next to hit the stage and they were the polar opposite of Daniel’s rocking and lively but subdued set. They were an electric presence and one might have thought they stole all the energy from the quiet (but appreciative) Ottawa audience as it was impossible not to notice the contrast in levels of excitement.

The band is captivating and frontman Jordan MacDonald is a spark plug, bouncing around the stage, engaging his bandmates and the crowd. Their music is the perfect level of rock (not too hard, not too soft) with just the slightest country twang to it, to be the perfect soundtrack for fun, the perfect backdrop for any good time.

They know how to put together a show and build a program and they started with slower songs ‘Changes’ and ‘You’ before moving into harder sounding and more lively numbers ‘Boomerang’ and ‘Whatever You Break’.

When the end of their set rolled round they had the audience warmed up, energetic, and participating on ‘Memory’, a highly relatable number about things you can’t remember and closing number ‘Chandelier’.

Flashing lights set to a synthetic soundtrack built anticipation for the main event before they welcomed Big Wreck to the stage.

The band would start steady and low key with ‘In Fair Light’ from their most recent album Pages; then bringing the energy up a notch on ‘I Digress’ before really kicking it up with fan favourite ‘That Song’ which kept crowd energy high into ‘Bombs Away’.

Every number all night was completed with long instrumental intervals allowing the band to really show off their musical talents and ability to rock, engage, and vibe with a crowd.

They woke the crowd out of their rock trance with a lively Doobie Brothers cover ‘Long Train Running’, featuring Chris on lead vocals, and ‘Ladylike’.

Although the tour has only been two months long Ian recounted that it has felt like the longest tour ever “Things caught fire, I started sick, I’m sick again… but the shows have been awesome because of the fans” he said before following it up with “There’s a new record out, I’m only trying to get you to buy it.”

They then played their new song ‘Bail Out’ which had a harder, louder, more thrash metal sound than anything else they’d played that night. It got a good reception and was followed by ‘So Far So Good’ which continued the harder, louder chapter of the night.

They ended the main set, again taking time to showcase their prowess of their instruments in a long intro to ‘Blown Wide Open’.

No one thought for a moment that the band wouldn’t be back for an encore but the surprise, and a highlight to the end of the night, occurred when Daniel Greaves joined them onstage to interrupt ‘The Oaf’ with a cover of R.E.M.’s ‘Hairshirt’. The band then returned to finish of ‘The Oaf’, but not before Ian tuned down the low E-string on his guitar, way past a drop-D tune. This provided Ian with both a bass line and the lead guitar with full reverb. Naturally the audience went crazy for this overdrive encore.

It is evident that Ian loves playing guitar; the expressions can be seen on his face while performing, from intensity to pleasure. At the end when the band was taking a bow, Ian and the rest of the band were all smiles for the Ottawa crowd.

Big Wreck
Ian Thornley – lead vocals, lead guitar
Dave McMillan – bass guitar, backing vocals
Chris Caddell – guitar, backing vocals
Sekou Lumumba – drums

Texas King
Jordan MacDonald – lead vocals, guitar
Colin Gray – lead guitar, backing vocals
Phil Spina – bass
Melvin Murray – drums

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ 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.

Alan Cross has 37808 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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