The initial impetus for creating HAFILAX over 20 years ago, was to be a site to list upcoming shows in and around Halifax. The idea sprung from seeing a poster the day or two after The Watchmen played here, of whom I was a big fan. It was disappointing to know that I missed out on seeing one of my favourite acts, so I vowed to fill that void with HAFILAX v1.
While The Watchmen have been playing infrequently lately, it was a much-welcome surprise to see that Danny Greaves (lead singer of The Watchmen) was providing tour support for Big Wreck on their 2023 Canadian Tour.
When set times were announced, Daniel Greaves was first on the bill and as such I made it a point to arrive early. Upon arrival, I ran into some good friends with whom I stopped to chat. As we talked, I heard the familiar voice of Daniel Greaves coming from the concert hall, so I said my goodbyes and quickly headed into the photo pit. Seeing him performing at a weathered upright piano was an absolute pleasure. With an ear-to-ear grin, I finally settled in and was able to start snapping some pics. He was just as wry as I remember, but his voice is one of the most recognizable of the Can-Con era. It was a hauntingly beautiful performance, one that escaped some chatty concert patrons. We wound down the set with a fantastic take on the well-known “Stereo” and before you knew it, his set was finished. I could see Graves packing them in at the Carleton with that sort of set.
Next up was Texas King, an act that has supported Big Wreck in the past, and are no strangers to Halifax as they opened a pre-pandemic show for Ian and the gang at the Marquee. In 2019 Texas King were relative unknowns out here on the East Coast, and for many they still are, but after their fiery performance on this Halifax stop, I would reckon they have landed on many a person’s radar.
Jordan MacDonald (lead) and his bandmates were having a blast on stage and it was infectious, hitting a fever pitch when he fired off an impressive jumping splits and never missed a beat. Texas King got the crowd fired up for Big Wreck with a well-polished performance featuring their infectious pop-infused rock tunes “Boomerang”, and “Chandelier” as well as a fantastic cover of Post Malone’s “Chemical”. It would be great to see them over at the Marquee if they were to make their way back East.
Then it was time for the headliners on this night. For an act such as Big Wreck who have always understood what a Coast to Coast (or Cross-Canada) tour means, this might have been their most elaborate Halifax setup to date. The band brought with them a massive light rig that was set up at the back of drummer Sekou Lemumba, whose impressive kit was up on a drum riser. On the front line you had Ian Thornley front and centre, flanked by longtime members Chris Caddell on guitar and Dave McMillan on bass.
After 7 albums under their belt, Big Wreck has established itself as a must-see live act, with a setlist cultivated from decades of beloved material. There will always be the die-hard fan base who want to hear the deeper cuts from the band, but for most, this is a night to celebrate the hits with fellow fans. Attending a Big Wreck show is similar to seeing an established act such as Blue Rodeo, as you have a solid understanding of what songs you are going to hear (“That Song”, “Blown Wide Open”, “Albatross”, and “The Oaf) while getting to hear some newer tracks (“Locomotive” – a personal favourite, “Bombs
Away” and “Bail Out”), and when all is said and done, folks leave smiling with the music ringing away in their ears. Not only are the songs great but Big Wreck continues to age much like a fine wine, as they sound better each time they come to town.
The band topped the night off by performing their breakthrough single “The Oaf”, during which Danny Greaves strolled out to join the band on stage. It was a solid 90’s era can-con moment, one of which was lost on a few in the crowd. From this writer’s vantage point, an enthusiastic fan asked who joined the band onstage, and the bewildered look on their face when I said Daniel Greaves, prompted me to further explain “…of the Watchmen” which furthered their excitement. As the band wound down the night, I headed off into the cool Halifax evening with a heart full of Big Wreck classics, wishing “Under the Lighthouse” made the cut on this tour.