After driving around Montreal for 3 hours trying to find the venue, I arrived at the Molson Centre a half-hour before the doors opened. Outside the venue, the fans were buzzing. The band hadn't played Montreal in 5 years and the people were obviously excited about the show. Once I entered the venue I got my soccer jersey, chatted with a few friends and sat down looking forward to seeing Cheap Trick. I'm not a huge fan, but the band definitely has a great energy and if nothing else I was waiting to get a close up look at Rick Nielsen's guitar with 5 necks!
Cheap Trick came on and I immediately noticed from my 14th row seat that Matt was on Stone's side of the stage snapping pictures. I looked around to Matt's side hoping to see Mr. McCready; however, I did not see him. Just then I noticed on the opposite side of the stage, Mike standing atop Jeff Ousley's workbench taking pictures! I turned to my girlfriend and pointed, "Mike Fucking McCready!" I went up into the bleachers and enjoyed the rest of Cheap Trick's set standing directly behind Mike, Jeff and Stone. At one point Rick tossed a pick in Mike's direction and he almost knocked over Rick's tech diving for the pick. He pocketed it and look around to see if anyone had seen him, I had to laugh to myself.
After the set I returned to my seat to get ready for the show. The equipment was all set up and the techs returned to the stage, picked up the instruments and did their final check. The crowd thought they were PJ and all went nuts. Once again I was laughing to myself, they really need to play here more often.
The Color Red came on and the crowd went crazy. It was the most noise I have ever heard in my life. The building was literally shaking. The boys hit the stage and Jeff sat down with his stand up bass, all I could think was, "Great, first song and I'm all ready stumped." They began to play Sometimes and with that, what would turn out to be an amazing show was underway.
The first half of the set was tight and quick paced and there was not a word from Ed. Corduroy was one of the better versions I have seen or heard. It was clear very early on that the band was sharp and very content. During Animal Mike entertained the crowd with several scissor kicks, that I personally can't get enough of. Hail, Hail belonged to Mr. Cameron. Matt was playing like a madman, at the end of the song adding several rolls and stealing the show. An intense version of Brain of J followed and Ed was clearly focused, the man was not going to miss a lyric on this night. Before Red Mosquito Jeff Ousley came out to hand Mike a new guitar but he was turned away, all I could think was "Sassy". There are 4 or 5 songs that to me are "Mikey songs", and Red Mosquito is one of them. Mike absolutely excelled, moving from slide to fingered leads and back again. The band was just getting warmed up.
Given To Fly was tight and led into Evenflow. Evenflow is all one has to say, this is a song that never tires. Eddie sang it like it was 1991 and the rest of the band followed. Halfway through an amazing solo Mike hit the ground and rolled all over the floor while continuing to wail away, and the crowd loved it! Ed grabbed his guitar and launched into Not For You. Stone spent a lot of his time facing his amp and playing with an intense look on face. Wishlist was greeted with an amazing roar of cheers and was highlighted by Ed closing with the words, "I wish I was Canadian…". This received an equally large amount of cheers (of course).
After the band blistered through Lukin Jeff became the first to speak up. He noted that his 12-string bass was blessed because Tom Peterson had used it during Cheap Tricks set. I originally though Jeff said it was blessed because it was Tom's, but after researching it, I think it was Jeff's bass. Tom Peterson is the man who invented the 12-string bass, and a 12-string bass meant one thing…Jeremy! The crowed supplied the vocals at the end and the energy was amazing. Daughter followed and I kept think how much Ed was into the old songs. I saw them in Maui in February and the older songs seemed forced, but Ed was so focused tonight. Halfway through the song someone threw a hockey jersey of their own team on the stage with the number 9 and Vedder written on it. Ed draped it over his shoulders and lead Daughter into the Another Brick in the Wall tag, where Ed changed the lyrics to, "Mr. President leave those kids alone."
At this point Ed walked up to the mic holding a piece of paper and addressed the crowed for the first time, "I'd probably be better at a math test then a French test." Then he went on to explain that he wanted to kiss our asses and spoke what he claimed to be some French. He explained that this is how a guy told him to say "It's been too long since we've seen you." in French. "Or I hope at least that's what it means, not 'can I have a taco supreme'". He went on to tell a funny story about how Jeff calls him everyday concerned about how the people in Montreal are doing.
Then…Present Tense!!!! Mikey stood alone in the spotlight and played some beautiful guitar. I've been wanting to hear this song for a while and was not disappointed. State of Love and Trust followed and was highlighted by Mike doing a lap around the stage. The crowed started cheering and yelling "Yeah,Yeah!" (Or "Oui,Oui!" if you're French). Do The Evolution has to be one of the most energetic songs in their repertoire. This song was written to be played live! The band was going crazy, Jeff leaping in the air and landing with a crash as Ed flew backwards tossing his mic stand and falling to the ground. Wow!
The time in between the set and the first encore was short. Ed came out on a tiny skateboard and explained that his parents had bought it for him as a child. "It was made in Canada…it's a Bauer". The crowd went nuts and Ed asked Ousley for the other skateboard . He pointed to Stone's tech who handed Ed this big ass skateboard. He held the two side by side, the smaller one about 1/10th the size of the other one. Ed looked out to the crowed, "Now that's evolution". He then said that he had seen our signs and that they were gonna try that one and pointed in my direction. I looked over my shoulder and saw a Hard To Imagine sign! The song was amazing, I had only heard it a couple times but after seeing it live I'm running out to by the Chicago Cab Soundtrack. Betterman was dedicated to Hillary Clinton and included the Save it For Later tag.
Alive followed and all I can say is Mikey! Mikey! He walked over to Ed and as he turned to leave, Ed grabbed him pulling him back and pointed at him and sang, "He's still alive!" Wow! I do not have the vocabulary, nor will I ever, to explain how I felt at that point. Black was Mike's moment. Ed was once again focused and Mike played like I have never heard him before. Black is my new Mikey song. After an extended ending in which Mike wailed while everyone on stage stood in awe, Jeff walked over as Mike came out of his trance and shook his hand. I picked my ass off the ground.
Leaving Here was fun as usual and I think Ed surprised everyone, including himself, with some kick ass blues lead. After Leaving Here Ed grabbed a tambourine and my girlfriend looks at me (I'm a religious player of the "what song is next game"). After discussing for the past 4 weeks how badly we want to see Baba O'Riley, I look at her like an idiot and go, "uh…I don't know…Leatherman?" Baba was the highlight! I remember at this point being engulfed in the moment, it was the most amazing feeling. Damn I love those boys!
As they returned for the second encore the crowd was erupting. It was the loudest sound I have ever heard. They all stood, smiling. Jeff sat on his bass cabinets and looked around, smiling from ear to ear. Ed looked around plugging his ears. Then… Yellow Ledbetter and Mr. Michael McCready. The song was amazing as always Mikey altering the ending slightly as the band looked on. They finished and the crowd erupted for one last time.
As I was leaving I had second thoughts about Barrie and Detroit. "Nothing could be better then this, lets just quit now." Then I laughed, "yeah right!" See you in Barrie!