On Tuesday night, the Scotiabank Centre shook off the remnants of the Memorial Cup hangover after a great 10 days, and played host to a pair of Canadian legends on a rare beautiful spring evening. For many of us in attendance, the music of both Corey Hart and Glass Tiger was woven tightly into the soundtracks of our lives. I would argue that if you couldn’t sing “Sunglasses at Night” in your sleep, that you clearly didn’t live through the Can-Con classic that has been seemingly ubiquitous since its release in 1983. While that is the song that is instantly identifiable, there are many other songs that are built into that tapestry of our Canadian soundscape, and it wasn’t until Hart’s induction at the Juno Hall of Fame earlier this year, that I realized how many songs I actually knew, and that made up my own personal soundtrack growing up through the ’80s.
For those in attendance on Tuesday, it was clear there was a line drawn in the generational sand, where the room was jam packed with Boomers and Gen X-ers, and some Gen Z-ers as well, but it wasn’t a room where the Millennial/Influencer generation felt the need to tread, having not grown up with the music. This could also be largely to the fact that Hart made a choice to step away from the stage in the late ’90s to focus on his family, which is largely unheard of these days. Especially as, he explained to the crowd, he spent many hours as a young lad standing in front of a mirror singing into a toothbrush, dreaming of one day stepping into that spotlight. It was clear that the connection that he established with his fans over 35 years ago was not only intact, but healthy and strong. There were plenty of vintage shirts hauled out of storage for this occasion, not to mention signs, and unabashed singing and dancing; the ’80s were revived on this evening.
There was very clearly a satellite stage set up toward the opposite end of the area where a few chairs, couches and a piano were, and about hallway through his set, Corey and a few members of his band (and his photographer) made their way through the ecstatic crowd taking pictures and shaking hands the entire way. Once he settled down at the piano, he continued to tell stories, including one about the fear of losing his prize possession to a failed romance, entitled “She Got the Radio”, in which (as you guessed it) losing that radio was perceived to be the worst possible scenario in a doomed romance. He then met a pair of best friends: Michelle Belliveau, who had emailed Corey earlier in the day in an effort to ease the emotional and physical burden of best friend Jackie Koszucki, who was enjoying a much-needed night out before starting treatment for a recent cancer diagnosis. Corey welcomed them to the couch alongside his piano and serenaded the pair with the well-known and apt “I Am by Your Side”. Corey then turned his attention to the love of his life Julie “Maggie” Masse, and as it was her birthday the day prior, performed the song he wrote for her entitled “Third of June”.
It was then time for the entourage to make their way back to the main stage, where Corey wrapped up his primary set with another well-placed (and well-known) cover of Elvis’ “Can’t Help Falling In Love”. Corey and his band headed for the backstage area. After what felt like an extended absence, they returned with a powder keg of an encore as the Scotiabank Centre became a discotheque for a moment, awash in light and electronic music, which eventually gave way for those iconic opening synth beats of “Sunglasses at Night”, for which the crowd remained on their feet and happily danced along. We were treated to a pair of covers (from Coldplay and Robert Palmer respectively), and Hart closed out the evening with the title track to his 2019 tour “Never Surrender”. It was at this point of the evening I hit the road in an effort to get ahead of traffic, and as I popped out my earplugs, I was astounded at just how loud the show sounded from the concourse.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the other Canadian classic on the bill, Glass Tiger, who brought everything full circle for this lifelong music fan. Back when the band was first starting out, and making the rounds on what I can only assume was a promo tour, they made a stop in Halifax and played atop the Zellers which at that time was part of the thriving Bayers Road Shopping Centre. That would have been roughly 33 years ago when I attended my first “concert”, of the hundreds at which I’ve been in attendance. Say what you will about still being together and touring after 33 years, that’s not accounting for Alan Frew’s recovery from a stroke a few years ago, and a recent accident that left him with a broken neck. A neck which was providing some visible discomfort throughout the evening’s performance, but it was a performance that Frew was not going to miss, even against the wishes of his medical advisers. It was a treat to see Glass Tiger take to the stage and play a swath of their well-known material, and it served as the ideal opener to this evening, which was a clear celebration of the ’80s.