The Wholigans resurrect music that really mattered
When you think of The Who –and even their temerity in calling themselves that has to put them in the first rank of Rock icons— you cannot, at least if you were around when they first emerged and through their early years, help but shed a tear at how modern music has fallen from such lofty heights.
The Rock opera Tommy was a seminal work, for example, that opened a whole new world in musical composition and paved the way, after its release in 1969, for the huge popularity of the following year’s debut of Jesus Christ Superstar, which launched the career of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. While arguably The Who were attempting mostly to keep up with and raise the ante on The Beatles, who began flirting with concept albums way back with Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band in ’67, and The Rolling Stones, with 68’s Beggar’s Banquet, it’s hard to argue that Tommy didn’t take things to a whole new level. Live performances of the album eventually ushered in an era of Theatrical Rock that had all sorts of unintended consequences. (Say hello to my little Glam!)
So I have to admire a band that can even attempt to capture the spirit of The Who and The Wholigans tribute band certainly never falls short for trying. And for the most part they succeed, especially where it really matters, on the big hits.
I caught the act last night, Friday May 30 (the first of a two-night stand) at Linsmore Tavern, 1298 Danforth Ave. at the TTC’s Greenwood subway station and came away inspired to hear so many great songs delivered with authentic passion. I didn’t start out immediately falling in love with them (“My Generation” lacked a certain something I felt) and was initially critical of a few ragged edges in “Roger Daltrey”’s voice. But then it occurred to me this would also probably be the case if the actual Daltrey were in the house live and up-close. And as the night continued the genuine feel of this group overcame any “music critic” quibbles I may have come in with.
Singer Barry Quinn, a co-founder of the outfit in 1982, is the only original member of the group, which has had various talented players come and go. But he’s the mainspring and not only has Daltrey’s look and voice down pat, he’s also got the patter and persona, which he rarely breaks out of during the night. He does the dangerous-looking Daltrey mic spin with ease, like a practiced juggler and his between-song chatter reinforces the magic.
The guitarist, whose name I didn’t catch, gave us a pretty convincing rendition of Townshend’s shattering genius, including, naturally, the windmill on several numbers. Bassist Dave “Gater” Smith, who’s been with the outfit since ’86, absolutely shreds the drummer’s double-bass thunder.
The whole crew works together seamlessly for the most part, but seems to grow an extra level of conviction as the night develops, seemingly feeding off the energy of the crowd, which spent most of its time on the dance floor –often with Quinn singing out amongst them.
Just when the night seemed to be over around 1:15 a.m. (already after its scheduled conclusion at 1), Quinn got in the mood for an encore and the band went into full “Tommy” mode, performing for another 20 or so minutes, which to me at that point was the icing on an already very delightful cake.
It was great to also see the range of ages of fans who were all united in common inspiration by the music of one of Rock’s most honest, genuine and elemental bands. It was all made possible by this first-rate clone group and, of course, a venue that is accommodating and relaxed but with enough of an edge to be cool, feeling like a room the original band might well have played as it was developing its chops.
The only thing these guys don’t do is destroy “Townshend”’s guitar at the end of the night –that’s a good thing, though, because they’re scheduled to return to the club to do it all over again tonight! Show starts about 9:30, cover is $15 at the door but you can probably still get $10 advance ticket prices if you go to the club’s website or drop in to pick them up at the bar. Either way, if you love The Who, you won’t be paying too much.
-Gary 17, www.torontomoon.ca
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*12-3> Julian Fauth’s Blues Brunch @ Axis, 3048 Dundas St. W., TO West ~Blues
*12-3> Danny Marks @ The Rex, 194 Queen St. W., TO ~eclectic Jazz/Blues/Rock
noon-11pm> Pickering Ribfest with many acts @ Esplanade Park, Civic Centre, Pickering ~eclectic
12:30-2:30> Tali Couch @ Humble Beginnings, 3109 Dundas St. W., TO West ~acoustic Roots/Blues/Pop
1pm-1am> Spirit of Yorkville concert with David DePoe; Sebastian Agnello; Pat Little; John Brower; Leigh & Alanna Klein; Keith McKie; Judith Orban; Joanne Crabree & Keith McKie; Tony Quarrington (5:30); Beverlie Robertson; Klaas Van Graft; Chick Roberts; Dede Higgins & Keith McKie; Fergus Hambleton; Mike McKenna & Luke Gibson; Johnnie Lovesin (with Dave Grunsky, Mike McDonald, Kid Carson, Mike Harrison -9pm); Cathy Young (10); Mike McDonald; One Love
1-4> open mic with host Bela Ray @ Full Of Beans, 1348 Dundas St. W., TO West
*2-6> jam w. Tom Finocchio @ Sam’s Place, Barton-Chestnut Sts., Hamilton
**2-6> Saturday Blues Sermon with James Anthony & Chuck Berry tribute @ Black Swan Pub Burlington, 4040 Palladium Way, Burlington ~Blues
*3-6> Danny B’s House Party Band feat. Michael Keys on piano @ Blue Goose, 1 Blue Goose St., Etobicoke South ~R&B/Pop
*3-7> jam with Michelle Deneault & Redder @ Port Credit Legion, 35 Front St., Port Credit
*3-6> jam @ Sauce, 1376 Danforth Ave., TO East
3> The Boxcar Boys @ C’est What, 67 Front St. E., TO ~traditional Jazz; $5
*3-7> open stage jam @ Moonshine Café, 137 Kerr St., Oakville
*3:30-6> Johnny Wright @ Outriggers, 2232 Queen St. E., TO East ~R&B
*3:30-6:30> Climax Jazz Band @ Seven44, 744 Bayview Ave., TO North ~Jazz; $
3:30> N.O.J.O. @ The Rex, 194 Queen St. W., TO ~Jazz
3:30> Barry Elmes Quartet @ The Pilot, 22 Cumberland St., TO ~Jazz
4-7> Laura Hubert Band feat. Peter Hill @ Inter Steer, 361 Roncesvalles Ave. ~Jazz Pop with punch
4-7> Senensky-Riley Trio @ Orbit Room, 580 College St., TO ~Jazz; $10
*4-7:30> Ronnie Hayward Trio @ McQueen’s, 993 Queen St. E., TO E. ~Blues/Roots
*4-8> The Meteors with special guest Virgil Scott @ Timothy’s Pub, 344 Brown’s Line, Etobicoke South ~Blues/Rock/R&B
5-8> Bill Heffernan & Friends with guests tba @ Gate 403, 403 Roncesvalles Ave. TO West –Rootsy Pop
5-8> Arthur Renwick @ The Local, 396 Roncesvalles Ave., TO West ~Rootsy Pop
5> Rick & Gailie @ Black Horse Pub, 452 George St. N., Peterborough
6-9> Richard Underhill Quartet @ Chalkers, 247 Marlee Ave., TO North ~Jazz; $10
6-8> Colonel Tom & The American Pour @ Cameron House (front), 408 Queen St. W., TO
7-11> Whatever Sticks feat. Sue Martin @ Earl Of Whitchurch, 6204 Main St., Stouffville ~Pop Rock
7> The Bacchus Collective @ The Rex, 194 Queen St. W., TO ~ Jazz
7:30> Notes & Tones benefit with many acts for Cabbagetown Community Arts Centre @ Cabbagetown Community Arts Centre, 422 Parliament St., $20 adv/$25 door
8> David Leask @ The Feathers, 962 Kingston Rd., TO East ~songwriter
8> Sarah MacRae; Flatrock @ C’est What, 67 Front St. E., TO ~pwyc
8-12> Cormac Cleary @ Ember Hot Stove, 3039 Lakeshore Blvd. W., Etobicoke South ~acoustic Pop
8-12> Jim Hardy Band @ Moonshine Café, 137 Kerr St., Oakville ~$10
8> Freebyrd @ The Honest Lawyer Whitby, 75 Consumers Dr., Whitby ~Lynyrd Skynyrd tribute
8:30> Amy Sky @ Hugh’s Room, 2261 Dundas St. W., TO W. ~songwriter; $35/-
8:30> Robbie Patterson; Ryan Coutts; Mathieu Alepin @ Free Times Café, 320 College St. TO ~songwriters
*9-1> karaoke with Rob MacArthur @ Tudor Rose, 700 Harwood Ave. S., Ajax
9-1> Love & LeBlanc @ Black Dog Pub, 87 Island Rd., Scarborough ~acoustic Pop/soft Rock
9-1> The Pearl Motel @ Gate 403, 403 Roncesvalles Ave., TO West ~ Jazz
9> Thelonius Hank @ The Local, 396 Roncesvalles Ave., TO West ~old school Country
9-1> jam & open mic @ NTB Lounge, 2878 Lakeshore Blvd. W., Etobicoke South ~Pop Rock/Top 40
9> James Anthony with special guest Sabrina Weeks @ Blue Goose Tavern, 1 Blue Goose Rd., Etobicoke South ~Blues/R&B
9> Highway 12 with Kris Barclay @ The Corral, 433 Simcoe St. S., Oshawa ~Country
9-1> Tracy Ryan Band @ Simcoe Blues & Jazz, 926 Simcoe St. N., Oshawa
9-1> The Itchy & Scratchy Show @ Oscar’s Roadhouse, 1785 Queen St. E., Brampton ~Pop Rock/Top 40
**9> Niagara Rhythm Section with guest Carlos del Junco @ The Old Winery, 2228 Niagara Stone Rd., Niagara-On-The-Lake ~R&B/Blues
9> Peterborough Folk Festival fundraiser with various acts @ The Red Garnet, 231 Hunter St. W., Peterborough ~
9:30> The Wholigans @ Linsmore Tavern, 1298 Danforth Ave., TO East ~Who tribute; $10/$15 door
**9:30-11:30> The Penny Blacks @ Relish, 2152 Danforth Ave., TO East ~original songwriter
9:30> Al Reilly’s Catalyst @ West Shore Bar & Grill, 877 Bayly St., Pickering ~classic Rock
*9:30-2> karaoke with The English Rose & The Mad Scotsman @ Winners, 2181 Lawrence Ave. E., Scarborough
9:30> Playback @ Seven44, 744 Mount Pleasant Blvd., TO North ~50s & 60s hits
9:30> Caution Jam with special guest Mark Crissinger @ Grossman’s, 379 Spadina Ave., TO ~Grateful Dead style jam band
9:30> Fat Tony @ Stone Cottage Pub, 3750 Kingston Rd., Scarborough ~Pop Rock
9:30> Donnie Meeker @ Timothy’s Pub 344 Brown’s Line, Etobicoke South ~Pop Rock/Top 40
9:30> Tom Barlow Band @ The Harp, 55 Lakeshore Rd. E., Port Credit ~Pop Rock/Top 40
9:30> Rugged Roots @ Shakers, 580 Kerr St., Oakville
9:30> Eldorado Bound @ Sixth Line Pub, 1500 Sixth Line, Oakville
9:30> Virginia Wolfe @ Gator Ted’s, 1505 Guelph Line, Burlington
9:30> Off The Wall @ Black Horse Pub, 452 George St. N., Peterborough
9:45> Rob Garcia Group @ The Rex, 194 Queen St. W., TO ~NYC Jazz
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10-2> Drive @ Southside Johnny’s, 3653 Lakeshore Blvd. W. Etobicoke South ~Rock
10-2> Phil & John Show feat. Phil Naro @ Fionn MacCool’s Ajax, 36 Kingston Rd. E., Ajax ~Pop Rock
10> Ride The Tiger @ Orbit Room, 480 College St. TO ~Funk/Soul
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10-2> Hot wax Meltdown @ Dakota Tavern, 249 Ossington Ave., TO West
10-2> Basia Lyjak @ Roc’n Doc’s, 105 Lakeshore Rd. E., Port Credit ~Rock/Top 40
10:30> tba @ The Hideout, 484 Queen St. W., TO ~U2 tribute
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