Any Canadian who’s grown up in the 80s will remember Glass Tiger’s colourfully cheesy music videos played on stations like Musique Plus or Much Music (RIP). When I found out Glass Tiger was playing L’Astral, a venue that only holds about 600 people, I nearly squealed with the excitement of getting to hear and see them live. The last time they came to Montreal was in 2012 and played the Bell Centre.
The night opened with Canadian singer-songwriter Polina Grace. Besides writing music, Polina also has a background in modelling and is an artist. She performed alongside an acoustic guitarist I did not catch the name of. I must give her props for her awesome voice – however, the entire set made me feel like I was witnessing someone with great talent…at a karaoke bar. I believe she is fairly new, so her set consisted mainly of covers including 4 Non Blondes “Whats Up.” A piece of advice: if you’re gonna open for a band like Glass Tiger, maybe play less covers and show us more originals. I was just not blown away with this one.
L’Astral was as packed as it could be. It was not quite a sold out show, because there was a fairly large space between people standing against the wall at the very back and the soundboard, which was kind of frustrating as those people did not want anyone standing in front of them. That said, Bucketlist photographer Thomas Gentil and I ended up going towards the bar and we had a killer view.
Glass Tiger opened with “I’m Still Searching” and the crowd went wild. I don’t know what it is with this band, or the 80s generation of pop music in general, but this music puts everyone in such a good mood. Alan Frew’s singing voice has not changed a bit. He kept his range and tune and was just spot on – the overall sound of the performance was perfect. You know these guys have incredible experience behind them and there is no dicking around. Frew gave us some heartfelt speeches about how the band worked with Rod Stewart, and told us a funny story about how Bryan Adams, who they worked with on “Don’t Forget Me (When I’m Gone),” was nine years old in 1969, so writing “Summer of 69’” at nine must’ve have gotten him some “amazing groupies.” That said, during this speech Frew made a point that they would NOT be playing “Don’t Forget Me” during the set, which really disappointed me.
We heard a fun speech from Frew about how they wrote “My Song” during drunken good times, and I definitely know more now that I’ve realized Frew is Scottish! That track has so much traditional Scottish feeling, but I stupidly had no idea. Needless to say we had a wonderful time singing along to this track. Too bad I didn’t have a beer in my hand though. I felt it was much needed.
Throughout the set they paid tribute to other musicians, first to Bowie by playing a cover of “Heroes” which nearly brought me to tears. At the end of it Frew screamed out, “We miss you David!” Wow. Could it have been any more heart wrenching? They continued the set with a newer track, “I Will Be There” off their record, Air Time. The fun upbeat moment was back. Way to go, guys.
Glass Tiger “ended” with “Animal Heart” before the encore, and while I still felt satisfied, I was really curious what they were going to play during their encore.
They came back on the stage, and Frew started talking about who we have lost in the last couple of years: Prince, Bowie, George Michael (goddamnit Frew!) and mentions how most artists nowadays don’t like people filming shows on their cell phones, and want them to “be in the moment.” Frew basically said fuck that, and that he wanted everyone to film the next track they were about to play. It was to pay tribute to the Canadian legend, Gord Downie of The Tragically Hip. Everyone had their phones ready as they went into “Grace, Too.” Nearly brought to tears myself, my phone was dead so I just watched and took it all in. This is a tough song to sing and of course the entire band and Frew nailed it.
Finally, surprise! They ended the night with “Don’t Forget Me (When I’m Gone),” which pissed me off due to my earlier disappointment, but I literally jumped and screamed like an idiot. Tricky and sneaky Frew…shame on you! During this performance Frew grabbed people’s cell phones and filmed the band up close for them on the stage. This was definitely not a Tool show! I don’t think I’ve seen an artist be THIS supportive of cell phone filming at shows before.
Overall, it was probably one of the best shows I’ve seen by a favourite childhood band. I hope to see Glass Tiger back in Montreal soon!
Written by Liz Imperiale
Photography by Thomas Gentil
*edited by Kate Erickson