Show Thoughts & Shots // Wildfire Recovery Concert @ Scotiabank Centre – 09.06.23

It was a Sunday afternoon like any other. That is, until a dark plume appeared overhead, and it wasn’t long before social media was aflutter with pictures of the ominous spectre. That was only the start of the nightmare for many homeowners who had to scramble to collect precious belongings and keepsakes before being forced to evacuate as the looming wildfire lapped at their heels.

Ask anyone, the usually damp Maritime spring was warmer and more arid than in the past; some may even say it was an unprecedented spring. The lack of moisture alone was problem enough; but that problem was further compounded by the fact that the remnants of Hurricane Fiona were left unchecked and unattended, adding fuel to the growing concerns of many residents.

Meanwhile, in the southern part of the province a wildfire was already burning out of control,  and quickly becoming the biggest wildfire in Nova Scotia history.  While the wildfire just outside of Halifax was contained within a week, it destroyed homes and businesses, leaving many folks without a place to go. The story on the South Shore was a similar one: the fire raged out of control for the better part of two weeks, before the tireless efforts of the fire crews got it under control. Sadly, not before irreparably changing the lives of hundreds of Nova Scotians.

As expected, Nova Scotians near and far banded together to fundraise for those affected by the wildfires, and those efforts will be needed well into the future.  All the while, a plan was coming together from a collection of community partners, which included Sonic Concerts, Scotiabank Centre, Phillips PR, Tour Tech, Canadian Tire, and Tour Tech East, to name only a few, who worked their magic to stage a Wildfire Recovery Concert with all funds raised going to the United Way Wildfire Recovery Appeal.

The speed at which this Wildfire Recovery Concert came together is unfathomable; a week after the fire was deemed to be under control the show itself was announced, with prominent local acts such as Neon Dreams, Jenn Grant, Joel Plaskett Emergency and Matt Mays (and others) taking part. Even more incredulous was that the show was to take place a mere 4 days later. Needless to say, tickets were snapped up as soon as they went on sale.

Even after recently playing host to the East Coast Music Awards, the amount of sheer talent that took to the stage over 4 hours was staggering. From the tandem of Nancy Regan and Liz Rigney handling emcee duties between acts to seeing Rankin MacInnes continue his upward momentum alongside his wildly talented band The Broken Reeds on the Scotiabank Centre stage, to seeing established fan favourites such as Adam Baldwin, Classified,  Dave Sampson and Joel Plaskett performing, alongside more up and coming acts such as Dee Dee Austin and Joe H Henry.

To cap off the evening, Matt Mays took to the stage with his usual cast of characters: Adam Baldwin, Leith Fleming-Smith, Serge Sampson, and Ryan Stanley. Matt and the band proceeded to work through a set of well-known fan favourites. To commemorate this special evening, Matt welcomed a couple of friends to the proceedings, including Christina Martin, Dale Murray, and the Halifax Ukulele Gang, including a special appearance from Jenn Grant who performed a duet with Matt under a sequined umbrella. That umbrella was a special gift from honourary Nova Scotians July Talk, who couldn’t make it in person but wanted to show their love for Nova Scotia at this time of need.

As has become customary at a Matt Mays show, the band closes out the night with a rendition of the Blue Rodeo classic “Lost Together”.  On this night, it was an all-star performance as Matt welcomed out all of the night’s performers to join in. It was something of an Avengers Assemble moment with Joel Plaskett, Matt Mays, Jenn Grant, and Neon Dreams all taking to the stage at the same time. Towards the tail end of the song, Matt left the stage and headed out onto the Scotiabank Centre floor to get up close and personal with some of the folks in attendance, as he helped close out the song and the night as a whole.

In times of adversity, Nova Scotians are well-versed in banding together to help our friends and family, and this was no different in helping to make this a wildly successful event. Kudos to all of those who banded together to stage this fantastic show, to ease some of the pain and burden that some of our fellow Nova Scotians have to endure as a result of these fires. It was an absolute honour to be in attendance to capture some of the performers that took to the stage throughout the show.

Wildfire Recovery Concert Gallery

About the author


A proud and over-caffeinated husband, father, runner and writer. I've written for the local weekly The Coast for over a decade and have since taken to creating and writing for HAFILAX for even longer. I hope you enjoy the musings of a guy who has loved music for the better part of 4 decades, and has an album of concert tickets to show for it.