Oh Canada... - July 10
Steve Hackett Band at Bluesfest, Ottowa
Photo © Ben Fenner
Lakeside meal on the road
Steve on the glass floor at the CN Tower, Toronto
Gary's drum solo, Ottowa Bluesfest
Trois Rivieres in Quebec hosted the Festivoix Festival, which we previously played in 2002. We didn't exactly get the breaks with the weather eight years ago when the skies suddenly turned monsoon... But this year was a different story - the clouds held back and the band played a blinder in front of a huge crowd. It was both a celebration and a homecoming to Canada - an unforgettable welcome to a part of the world that has always been a thrill to play.
Stepping out of French Canada we headed towards English speaking Toronto. Even the locals were wilting under the merciless glare of the sun. A sore throat robbed me of three nights sleep and a potential visit to Niagara Falls, but at the Mod Club gig thankfully enough adrenaline kicked in, the enthusiastic crowd was rammed to the rafters and once again the show was a corker!
On to the Ottawa Bluesfest... As we drove into Ottawa the extraordinary heatwave continued broken only by a brief cloudburst. Later as the sun was setting, the distant strains of the Moody Blues' Nights in White Satin brought back memories of playing that song in my teens and losing my first love. As I stopped and listened I was also reminded of King Crimson's Epitaph - two similarly evocative songs that marked a powerful period of early musical influence. Ten minutes later I was treading the boards myself... Although there were several stages, a great enthusiastic crowd had gathered for our band - another electrical storm of a gig!
Our journey en route to Montreal the following morning was beset by a real storm, complete with black thunder and white lightning. We could barely see the road ahead and nearby lakes looked as if they were about to burst their banks...
The sell-out crowd at the Place des Arts in Montreal roared an enormous triumphant welcome. Both Montreal and Sherbrooke were ecstatic shows and the band were even more dynamic than ever. Now that the cold I've had is subsiding, I'm pleased now to be sounding closer to Caruso than Lurch!
Backstage in Montreal I shared old campaign stories with fascinating Pierre 'the dresser' - a man in his seventies who had known Edith Piaf, a woman whose voice I've always been enraptured by. Speaking of legendary French singers of the past, in the foyer of the grand old Theatre Granada in Sherbrooke a poster of Maurice Chevalier winked, reminding me he was treading these boards whilst rock was still wearing short trousers. And so on to the final leg of our Canadian tour in Quebec City itself...
Roger at Trois Riviere
Soundcheck at Sherbrooke
Ottowa landscape at sunset