Two Canadian rock icons teamed up for an evening of classic 70s and 80s rock at The Colosseum last night (Thursday, March 9) for a two-plus hour evening of musical memories. Loverboy and Trooper brought out more than 20 Canadian classic rock tunes dating back to as far as 1975 and as new as the mid-2000s.
The double-bill packed the house with nostalgic fans and curious onlookers. As each band’s show progressed, the crowd’s enthusiasm for the music grew to a standing fury.
Trooper kicked off the evening with an hour set of sold hits and one newish song. Their start was a little sluggish as they worked through sound-check issues, but by the time they kicked into Two For The Show, things were more settled in. The years have been fairly kind to lead singer Ra McGuire and guitarist Brian Smith. McGuire’s voice was still strong after performing with the band for more than 40 years and Smith’s guitar is still as raw and energetic as the day their debut album came out. McGuire took the opportunity to model a few different Trooper sweatshirts throughout the show with messages likes “Arrive. Raise Hell. Leave.”.
Although Trooper haven’t recorded any new material since their 1991 album Ten, the band did include a newer song called Cold Water, which made its debut in original the band’s shows as early as 2007 and pops up every now and then.
McGuire and Smith are complimented with non-original members Gogo (keyboards), Scott Brown (bass) and Clayton Hill (drums), each of which had their own solo in the show.
There’s not much to complain about with a Trooper setlist, but it would have been nice to hear Janine and Oh, Pretty Lady instead of the solos. Additionally, a rare track from one of their 10 original albums would have been amazing – I would have voted for Knock ‘Em Dead Kid, from the 1977 album of the same name.
By the end of the show when the Trooper boys pulled out Raise A Little Hell, the audience was frantic. There’s just something about that song that makes people a little more boisterous and cheerful.
While Trooper presented a more laid back, party atmosphere, Loverboy still came across like rock stars on the stage. Lead singer Mike Reno showed slight signs of losing his voice at some point (even coughing near the end of the show), but for the most part that didn’t interfere with their show – in fact, most of the time his voice was the shining moment in the songs – other than a bit more maturity, his vocal quality remained intact and resembled the 1980s recordings quite well.
On stage for about 80 minutes, the Loverboy set was pretty short for a band that still tours extensively throughout North America. That left little time for the band to get overly creative or pull out anything rare or unique for Windsor, which was disappointing for a band that’s released three albums and several singles in the 2000s.
Loverboy is a solid band and has retained its lineup since it started in 1979 (with the exception of bassist Ken “Spider” Sinnaeve who replaced the late Scott Smith in 2000), so there’s a chemistry and history here that Trooper didn’t have and it showed during the solos and subtle improvisations they threw into the music. They still acted and performed like an arena rock act of the 80s.
Guitarist Paul Dean still rocks the hell out of his guitar and added some live power to the band’s more rocking songs than we’re used to on the records, while keyboardist Doug Johnson was a bit of a conduit between songs with brief and exciting interludes. The liveliest on the stage were drummer Matt Frenette and Sinnaeve, who served up some solid backbone. Sinnaeve seemed to really enjoy himself and was seen tossing guitar pics to the audience even after the show was long over.
As with Trooper, there wasn’t much flaw in the band’s selection of songs. We were treated to 10 essential hit songs with a brief taste of The Doors’ Riders In The Storm embedded into take Me To The Top. The band stayed in the 80s all night, playing nothing newer than the 1987 hit Notorious, which opened the show, which was a bit of a shame – their 2012 album Rock ‘n’ Roll Revival had three killer tracks which would have fit in well.
Fans reacted well to hits like Turn Me Loose, Working For The Weekend, The Kid Is Hot Tonite and encore Lovin’ Every Minute of It.
At this point in their career, they’re not the band from the 80s with the skinny bods, tight leather pants and cool lock of thick hair, but they’re still a class act and a great show – even 40 years later.
Canadian classic rock presented itself well last night and with more than 20 solid hits to share between themselves, Loverboy and Trooper rocked The Colosseum to its core.
Next up at The Colosseum is wildly popular Canadian TV sitcom, Letterkenny, on The Colosseum stage on Friday, March 16 and Santana on the 17th.