After a 2023 that was jam-packed with shows, and standing in numerous concert pits, it’s not often that a show can be in the running as one of the best shows of the year in December. However, last night saw The Glorious Sons bring their Glory tour to the Scotiabank Centre stage, and they put on a near-flawless performance. It was the band’s first performance in the biggest barn in town after cutting their teeth on a few other local stages such as Alderney Landing (where they were supporting Arkells on Canada Day), the Dal Quad (w/ the Beaches), Truro’s Rock the Hub and the legendary Marquee Ballroom. They were slated to perform here on their last touring cycle, but Covid put a kybosh on those plans.
On the Canadian Dates, Windsor, Ontario’s own The Blue Stones kicked off the proceedings. The band has been carving out a name for themselves on indie and rock radio across the nation, and they worked their hits into their set, alongside some deeper cuts such as “Magic”, which lost the crowd for a bit. The energy in the audience seemed to take a dip, but the last third of the set was stacked with “Don’t Miss”, “Black Hole” and their massive closer “Shaking Off the Rust”.
The bombast created between drummer Justin Tessier and lead singer/guitarist Tarek Jafar was reminiscent of West Coast-based band The Japandroids (another hard-hitting duo). It would be fun to see The Blue Stones return to tear the roof off of the Marquee Ballroom. But after a killer opening set, it was time to clear the stage for Kingston’s The Glorious Sons.
There is something about the connection between front-man Brett Emmons and the city of Halifax that really ratchets up the Glorious Sons shows. You see this sort of quiet, almost bashful guy walk on stage, but the moment the music hits there is a glint in his eye and the switch flips. The Emmons wildman emerges and you see him bound across the stage barefoot
and reckless, but never missing a beat. It’s a sight to behold and furthers that connection with the crowd. While all eyes can easily be drawn to Brett, his big brother Jay was faithfully by his side the whole night playing guitar relentlessly and is more the stoic and staid band member, balancing out Brett perfectly.
This tour marked the turning of a page for the Glorious Sons, as long-time guitarist Chris Koster left the fold to return to his own solo career. Long-time fans were no doubt curious to see how this departure would affect the live performances, as the album and the material leading up to it had a bit more of a folky lilt. The band sounded as great as ever, and their energy and verve were turned up to 11 for their Halifax stop. While they may have been touring in support of their latest album Glory, Saturday night in Halifax was a huge celebration of the band’s debut album The Union, with a whopping 7 tracks making the set list including “Heavy”, “White Noise”, “Mama” and fan-favourite “Amigo”. With the love those tracks received, hopefully we see it back in print in 2024.
On a 57-date tour, the same old setlist night after night would wear on even the most seasoned vet, so The Glorious Sons ripped a page from The Tragically Hip playbook and had different sets for each night on the door (which also rewards the diehard fans who might catch a few dates). It was a night that welcomed all fans in equally; there were those cuts from the band’s debut album, then you had “Josie”, “Everything is Alright” and “Mercy Mercy” for the newer/casual fans.
On this night, the Halifax crowd was more than ready to sing along to many of the band’s massive hits such as “Kill the Lights” and the infectious “SOS (Sawed-off Shotgun)”. And to look around the packed venue, you could see the reach the band has: from the family rocking out with their two kids who were having a blast, to some of the older fans singing their hearts out from their seats, it was heartwarming to witness.
Any concerns about the lineup change disrupting The Glorious Sons’ ascension were quickly quashed, and you could see the band is in top form. Brett is a natural frontman and as primary songwriter is crafting some of the band’s best work to date. Some of the tracks last night made me wish there was a Glorious Sons acoustic album (something like Arkells’ Campfire Chords) that showed off Brett’s penchant for folk tunes. All in all, it was as close to a perfect show as you’re going to get. Hopefully we see the Sons back here in the spring come Juno season.