Heart of Steel: Concert
Helix 30th Anniversary Party
July 17th, Brantford, Ontario, Canada
Reviewed Celtic Bob
Photos by Celtic Bob and Norm
The show of a lifetime.
Something that can NEVER be recreated.
My review of this stunning show is going to start earlier in
the week when I first arrived in Ontario from Newfoundland on an
early Sunday morning. A few hours after landing, a call came in
on my friend's answering machine welcoming me to Ontario and
requesting that I call back. The message was from none other
than Brian Vollmer whom I met a few weeks earlier in St. John's.
I called him back and he invited me to visit his home in London.
Late Tuesday afternoon I made my way down the 401 to London
with only a printed sheet from mapquest and a bottle of water.
Here I was driving on the freeway through T.O., close to rush
hour, with the new Alice Cooper CD on (gearing up for the
following week's show). Shortly after supper my 2 and a half
hour journey ends and I arrive at Planet Helix. Brian and his
lovely wife Lynda take me on a sight-seeing tour of London and
the surrounding country - what a beautiful place it is. After
the sight-seeing trip we head back to Planet Helix where we sit
and relax on the back deck and have a chat. After relaxing a
while, Brian and myself take his dog on a short walk around the
The next morning Brian is up bright and early and off to
Tim's for a coffee well before I get my lazy ass out of bed.
Once I awake, we jump in his car and off we go!! We stop at
Tim's for a coffee (neither of us seems to function without that
shot of caffeine in the morning), then off to do Helix-related
stuff. We did make a stop at Rainer and Cindy Weichmann's where
we picked up the master copy of the upcoming EMI CD "Rockin' You
for 30 Years" (from their mailbox) and listened to it in the car
while running around London. It
sounds really good, to say the least. After that, we grabbed a
bite to eat then headed back to his place. I got to watch the
DVD that was to be played at the upcoming show on Saturday. The
DVD itself is an hour-long documentary made up of old film
footage from Brian's personal collection. There are also recent
interviews with past and present members. It really shows the
band's history and is a very well done documentary. The closing
segment is really funny and sums up the footage perfectly. It is
great to see recent interviews with past members like Brent and
Fritz as well as band founder Bruce Arnold.
Shortly after finishing viewing the DVD Brian gets a call
saying the new CD's are ready to be picked up so Brian and Lynda
head off to get them and I follow behind in my vehicle. They
turn off for Brantford to get them and I carry on eastbound on
the 401, as I have other commitments to attend to.
Ahhhh, Saturday morning!!!!! The show is in a few hours and
I’m psyched. My buddy “Norm” got up stupid early and drove down
from Ottawa and picked me up in Whitby so that we could head to
the show together in Brantford. After a quick stop in Toronto we
were back on the road to Brantford. Once we arrive in Brantford
and (finally) find the Sanderson Center, we decide to grab a
bite to eat and have a beer or 2 before the show.
(start of amusing aside)
We walk around the block and find this little sub place and
decide to stop there. We go in and order and everything is as
normal as can be until the food is done. That’s when it started.
The girl behind the counter says the fries are done so Norm goes
up and the thing is huge. He says to the girl: “I asked for a
small”; the girl doesn’t even crack a smile and replies: “That
is a small”(!). When he came back to the table we started to
crack up laughing. He goes back up to the counter to get some
salt and vinegar and comes back and I’m still laughing at the
insane amount of fries on his tray. He goes “Don’t laugh - I
just saw the size of your burger and your fries”. I go up to get
mine and the thing is friggin’ huge. It is cut in 2 pieces and
you can still barely hold it and I had almost the same amount of
fries. Anyhow, as we are eating two people leave with a 6ft long
sub. We’re like: “That’s insane…then the come back and get 2
more (!!). I don’t know where they were going or what it was for
but they were the biggest subs I ever saw. After we stuffed
ourselves silly with some great food we headed down the road for
a beer. We went into this small little place and ordered a
couple of beverages. When she gave me my change it didn’t seem
right but I figured “OK, What the hell”. My buddy orders another
and passes in a fiver and gets like $3.90 change. He says to the
girl: “How much is beer?” and she says $1.10 If we never had the
show in a little over an hour I bet we would’ve stayed there all
(end of amusing aside)
a couple more beer we head up to the Sanderson Center…an amazing
old theatre. Once in the lobby we start looking at a ton of
Helix memorabilia and some of Brian’s scrapbooks. Just before we
are allowed in the theatre itself Cindy comes up to me and says
she had to check out the lobby before the show. It was great to
see band members out with the fans beforehand. She goes inside
and as I’m waiting to go in I see Brian coming. I spoke briefly
with him before he went in. Once inside we made our way to the
seats - front row, just off-center…an excellent place to be.
Just moments before the show starts, Brian pokes his head out
from behind the curtain and calls me over. He slides a VIP pass
out to me so I could capture a few shots on camera of the show.
(Thanks B). Moments later the lights go down and the crowd goes
We get a great introduction by Derek Cummings including a
poem he wrote entitled simply “A Poem”. Then the hour-long
Helix documentary starts. As the video plays and each member
appears on the big screen, they are met with cheers from the
audience. As the movie finishes the screen turns into a short
computer animation segment as “Space Junk” plays throughout the
hall, then the screen rises and the current line-up cranks out
the title track from the new CD
Rockin’ In My Outer
Space. Everyone is in fine form and on top of their game.
They perform flawlessly. Brian especially is in his glee as this
is his baby. The band then do a couple more tracks from the new
album as well as “Running Wild In The 21st Century”. Drummer
Archie Gamble tosses one of his sticks directly to me at the end
of the set. Thanks man.
the current band’s opening ‘set’, the screen again descends and
a short minute-long video is played. Following this, the screen
then rises again and the classic Helix lineup from 1974 (!) is
on stage and they tear into “Buff’s Bar Blues” - one of the
first songs they learned as a band. Original bass player Keith
"Bert" Zurbrigg was onstage complete with his trademark tux
jacket and top hat. Brian was dressed in a t-shirt and a
“Trailer Park Boys” hat. All members onstage seemed to be having
the time of their lives and this particular song was one of the
Next, the screen goes down and another short video is played
before it again rises to tremendous applause as the Doerner
brothers take the stage alongside Bert, Brian and Rainer
(filling in for the late Paul Hackman). This lineup perform
three songs, one of which Brent “The Doctor” Doerner handles on
lead vocals. Brent does an exceptional job in belting out the
words to “Billy Oxygen” and it is allot heavier than the
original studio version. It is great to see Brent onstage again
after all these years. Seeing him trade off solos with Rainer
was mind-blowing to say the least. The guy was on 10 and proved
that after all these years out of the limelight he still has got
all the chops and the moves. His presence was amazing!
As this segment ended the screen came down yet
again but this time behind Doerner who was fixing his guitar
pedals. It was quite funny to see the look on his face when he
realized he was out in front of the screen. The short video
ended this time saying “Leo is here” which got tremendous
applause. The screen rose yet again and the “White Lace & Black
Leather” line-up played a duo of tracks from the bands 2nd LP
featuring Leo behind the drum kit.
up - the classic 80’s line-up. The screen rose and onstage was
Brent, Fritz and Vollmer from the classic 80’s Capitol era. This
was great for us older fans who came onboard the Helix ship back
in the early 80’s. It was great to see these guys all on stage
together again. The rest of the band was filled out by Stan on
bass and Rainer on guitar with his wife Cindy doing backing
vocals and percussion. They rip into “Gimme Gimme Good Lovin’”
and they got the audience on the edge of their seats from the
get go. We got all the classics including “Heavy Metal Love”,
“(Make Me Do) Anything You Want”, and Deep Cuts the Knife”.
Brian (as was everyone) was having the time of his life belting
out the numbers with past and present members. It was especially
cool seeing past members like Brent and Fritz sharing the stage
with new guys Rainer and Stan. During the set, Brian brings out
Ray Lyell to trade off vocals on “Wild in The Streets” which was
interesting to say the least. One of the best moments during
this segment of the show was at the start of “Dirty Dog” when
Vollmer turns around and motions for Cindy to join him at the
front of the stage like they did a few weeks prior at the St.
John’s show. The surprised look on her face was a bit comical as
she tried to get her mic cord untangled and make her way to the
front. Once there they traded off vocals and clearly showed
everyone her amazing voice and how much she really adds to the
After that, every past member comes out on stage and they go
into “Rock You”. Brian even goes out into the audience for a
couple of verses and this has everyone on their feet. Seeing
members like Don, Bert, Bruce, Ron….all on stage together with
members like Brent, Brian, Archie and Jim is simply amazing.
There wasn’t once in the whole show that there was ever a sign
of an ego. Everyone involved was there for their love of the
music. To quote a song title from Helix’s first album for
Capitol - There “Ain’t No Hi like Rock ‘n’ Roll”, baby! The
current line-up once again returned to the stage and did “Kid’s
Are All Shakin’” before ending the music for the night. After
the song ended and the band left the stage Archie came out and
called out for Brian. He was greeted by his wife Lynda as well
as a rep from EMI who presented him with a beautiful plaque
representing the past 30 years of HELIX. This plaque is now
proudly displayed in his living room.
the final curtain fell we get a short message on the screen from
Brian thanking everyone for being part of it all over the past
30 years. As we all leave our seats and head to the lobby I meet
up with Fritz by the soundboard. I stopped and had a brief chat
before heading to the lobby to see the other members. Out there
I have brief conversations with Brent, Stan, and Brian. Then I
head backstage and meet up with Cindy and Rainer for a few
minutes and shoot the shit. As I was leaving I stop and talk to
Arch and Jim. It was a great night for RnR.
The next day I head to London to Brian’s place for a BBQ.
Upon arriving in his backyard I notice he is being filmed by EMI
for a future DVD release. Brian spots me and says to the camera
guys that I came from NL for the show. Immediately they aim the
camera at me and I freeze like a fool. Total camera shock!!
Thanks Brian (LOL). After that initial “Greeting” everything was
the best kind – I talked to a few past members, current members,
as well as friends that came the distance for the show (like
myself). It was great all around meeting people like Otter, Rawn,
and Scott…..and many others. It was truly a memorable
experience. We even heard the soundboard audio from the previous
nights show. Hopefully Brian and Co. will apply some pressure to
Capitol/EMI and release the full thing without overdubs on CD
along with the DVD. Even without EQ’ing, it sounded fantastic.
C’mon EMI, we need this FULL Recording!!!!!!!!
Once some people started to filter out there was time for
Brian to relax a minute and reflect back on it all – what a
whirlwind week it was for him. Fortunately, all his hard work
paid off – the event was a resounding success.
Unfortunately, I had to leave Brian’s and make my way back to
reality (LOL). Although Brian offered to let me stay there
again, I had to decline due to other commitments. Both Brian and
Lynda went out of their way to treat not only myself, but ALL
fans, family and friends terrifically. They are excellent hosts
and really great people. What a week – surely one that I will
NEVER forget. Thanks to Brian, Lynda and everyone for a great
time while I was there.
I’m still kicking myself as I can’t believe I actually
experienced all of this – it was such an awesome ‘trip’ and one
that I wished “I Could Never Leave” (to quote yet another Helix
song which was fittingly, the first song from Helix’s first
Thanks to: Norm for a
few of the pics. Also, thanks to Brian and Lynda Vollmer and Helix for the great
time and hospitality.
Official HELIX Site:
Helix Reviews in Metal-Rules.com
Back For Another Taste
Live in Buffalo
Rockin’ In My Outer Space
Rockin’ In My Outer Space
Other Live Helix Reviews in
June 30th 2004, St. John's NL