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The Spoons–still going!–bring the 80s to a small venue. Here are photos and a review

[Another photo/text report from the Ottawa area by Ross MacDonald. – AC]

Those ‘Old Emotions’ was definitely the theme of the night on Friday at Neat Coffee Shop in Burnstown, just west of Ottawa. Burlington’s 80’s phenom new-wave group Spoons dropped by to check out what is up with all the hype about this century-old one-room schoolhouse in rural Ontario.

The Spoons Ottawa

Gord Deppe and Sandy Horne took the stage and got the crowd’s attention immediately with a slowed-down, and stripped-down, rendition of their breakthrough hit ‘Arias & Symphonies’. And then after playing through a verse their computerized drum machine kicked in, the tempo picked up, and everyone came alive for a version that was much more familiar. What a spectacular start to the night.

The Spoons Ottawa

Gord is still as gregarious as ever, quipping “the 80’s were like ten years of Halloween with the hair, the makeup, and the music. Hopefully this will bring back the good memories.” And everyone broke into applause in agreement.

On stage was Gord with his Gibson SG, the reverb turned up, letting his notes ring out between riffs giving a surprisingly full sound. And one has to wonder how the diminutive Sandy can reach the low frets on those long on the super-long necks of her Spector NS basses.

The Spoons Ottawa

The ’80s are remembered for synths, drum machines, and thumping basses. And yes, at times the Spoons incorporated all of those. But it was evident on Friday night that foremost Gord rings out beautiful guitar work that is often at the forefront. And Sandy was never simply thumbing a repetitive bass line; she was picking, slapping, and fingering intricate runs utilizing every fret on the neck.

The Spoons Ottawa

Gord sang the bulk of the lead vocals with his pitch-perfect tenor voice, with Sandy adding beautiful soprano harmonies. However, on a couple of songs, notably ‘One In Ten Words’, Sandy sang lead vocals. For those who haven’t had the pleasure, her voice is similar to Kate Bush: beautiful and not overpowering.

The evening was mostly an homage to the best part of the 80s, the music. Sandy and Gord played all their 80s hits, plus a few of their newer singles (as with all great musicians, they just can’t stop it). And as Gord is also the guitarist for A Flock of Seagulls, they played a couple of their songs. Both were stripped-down versions of ‘Space Age Love Song’ and a verse of ‘I Ran’. Gord then mentioned that in the fall there will be a cross-country tour of 80s bands A Flock of Seagulls, Spoons, Glass Tiger, and others.

The Spoons Ottawa

Gord added “We were children of the video age. We released 12 videos, but we were not actors. The only video we like is ‘Romantic Traffic’ because it was just us being us.” Also “‘Romantic Traffic’ was on the first episode of Much Music along with Duran Duran”. Gord recounted the story of meeting Nile Rogers for the first time. It was in New York after opening for Culture Club. Culture Club’s team brought Nile in to produce their next album. But Things didn’t turn out exactly that way. Gord stated that after Nile watched the show, he was talking with the Spoons backstage “Culture Club, they were ok, but the Spoons… they were the SHIT!” And the Spoons became the only Canadian band that had an album produced by Nile Rogers.

The Spoons Ottawa

When Gord and Sandy broke into ‘Tell No Lies’ many in the audience bounced up and started dancing in the aisles. The Spoons closed out the night with ‘Old Emotions’. A fitting close to a night of reminiscing of the gold old times in the 80s.

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.

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7 thoughts on “The Spoons–still going!–bring the 80s to a small venue. Here are photos and a review

  • “Gord then mentioned that in the fall there will be a cross-country tour of 80s bands A Flock of Seagulls, Spoons, Glass Tiger, and others.”

    Hell yeah! That would be pretty fantastic!

    Reply
    • One small correction. It’ll be Honeymoon Suite, not Glass Tiger. Men Without Hats will also be on the bill.

      Reply
      • I’m sure hoping “cross-country” includes Halifax.

        Reply
      • Sorry for the error, my bad. I was busy juggling my camera and notepad and I got that wrong.

        Reply
  • how did I not hear about this show. bummer

    Reply
  • The Spoons were as good as any other New Wave band of the 80s. Gordon and Sandy were and are amazing musicians and vocalists but the electronic keyboards sound Arias had was unique and exciting. I heard the big tour is coming to Burlington at Spencer-Smith Park.

    Reply
  • I remember that one night Gord and Sandy showed up at a friend’a house in Waterdown to chat with some geeky high school kids. So gracious.

    Reply

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