Glass Tiger & Honeymoon Suite Live In Vancouver: January 20, 2006

February 6th, 2006
by Lord of the Wasteland

Glass Tiger & Honeymoon Suite
Friday, January 20, 2006
The Commodore Ballroom
Vancouver, BC  Canada

 

**Live Review & All Photos By Lord of The Wasteland


The 80s were a seminal period in my life.  I began high school in 1986 and my musical roots had already been planted several years earlier with everything from heavy metal to the latest songs spun incessantly on Top 40 radio.  Two bands who were wholly encapsulated by the latter format were Glass Tiger and Honeymoon Suite.  Admittedly, I was a fan of Glass Tiger but the crunchier guitars and hard rockin’ tunes of Honeymoon Suite always appealed to me more.  One of my first concerts was Glass Tiger and Mr. Mister (admit it…you liked “Broken Wings”!!) in 1986 and the band was just starting to gain exposure from the massive single, “Don’t Forget Me (When I’m Gone)” from their quadruple platinum debut, THE THIN RED LINE.  The singles followed one after the next over the course of 1988’s DIAMOND SUN and, to a lesser extent, 1991’s SIMPLE MISSION but Glass Tiger’s career was done soon afterwards.  Honeymoon Suite, the elder statesmen of the two, kicked things into high gear with their self-titled debut in 1984 and continued spawning hits from 1986’s THE BIG PRIZE and 1988’s RACING AFTER MIDNIGHT, earning a spot on the soundtrack to Mel Gibson’s LETHAL WEAPON and TV’s MIAMI VICE along the way.  Unfortunately, the next decade was not kind to that band, either, and 1993’s MONSTERS UNDER YOUR BED went nowhere. 

Still, both bands retained a loyal following with greatest hits releases and a renewed interest for 80s nostalgia among the so-called “Generation Y.”  This tour was billed as “25 Top Ten Hits” and hits are exactly what Honeymoon Suite and Glass Tiger delivered to a packed house of mostly thirty- and forty – somethings.  Looking at the crowd, I’m sure Vancouver’s babysitters were certainly busy!

Honeymoon Suite was the band that I most wanted to see of the two.  The guitar-driven hard rock of songs like “Burning In Love,” “Bad Attitude” and “Feel It Again” populated my Walkman in junior high school and having seen the band twice in the last four years, they still have “it.”  Founding members Johnnie Dee (vocals) and Derry Grehan (guitar) are the only remnants from the “classic” Honeymoon Suite line-up these days but to be honest, they were always the two that I thought of anyway.  Naming the original keyboardist, drummer or bassist would be fruitless, so the spotlight is rightfully on the two of them however the backing band of Stan Mizcek (bass), Peter Nunn (keyboards) and Bret Carrigan (drums) did a formidable job of recreating the experience.  I have always felt that Grehan’s guitar was sorely underrated and his abilities were showcased during a five-minute solo.  The string-bending and crunch of “Feel It Again” still blows me away and even the subdued “Wave Babies” carries a wispy strum with it.  Dee’s voice is still excellent and the only difference between him then and now is less extravagant hair, the same of which can be said for everyone on this tour (and in the crowd!).  Dee played some rhythm guitar on several tracks but I could barely hear it.  When Dee thanked The L.A. Weight Loss Clinic for sponsoring the tour, I thought it was a nudge in the ribs for everyone getting older and I laughed it off, but I later noticed on the tour poster that the diet center did actually sponsor the tour!  His admission of a love for playing at The Commodore transcended to the crowd of singing and dancing fans, who followed along with every word.  The only questionable inclusion in the one-hour set was “Funny Business” from the band’s debut album.  “All Along You Knew” or “Still Loving You” would have been a more suitable choice given the “hit” factor, so I’m still scratching my head over this but overall, no one could complain about the performance or song selection as the band made almost twenty years seem to disappear.  An autograph session at the merch booth after their set saw many fans trek over to get a poster or album covers signed or to pose for a photograph.  Honeymoon Suite seem like super guys who are happy to be able to bring their songs to a still-hungry public and it was great to get to see them one more time.

SETLIST
Lookin’ Out For Number One
Burning In Love
Stay In The Light
Wave Babies
Feel It Again
What Does It Take
Funny Business
Derry Grehan Solo
Bad Attitude
New Girl Now
~ENCORE~
Lethal Weapon
Love Changes Everything

 

On the softer side of hard rock—one might call it AOR—lies Glass Tiger.  Alan Frew’s buttery smooth brogue is still as clear as ever and although there is a female backup singer used to fill in the gaps live, his voice is still as pure as it was in 1986.  With the exception of new drummer Chris McNeill, Glass Tiger circa 2006 features the same line-up as twenty years earlier, which is no small accomplishment.  Like Honeymoon Suite, Glass Tiger sat with fans after their set for autographs and I kicked myself for not bringing my limited edition clear vinyl copy of THE THIN RED LINE.  Frew announced that an acoustic guitar, signed by both bands, would be raffled off with all proceeds going to a battered women’s shelter called Jubilee House, which was a very classy move.  Musically, Glass Tiger never skipped a beat and Frew is an excellent frontman.  His anecdotes both amused (before “My Town,” he announced that this 1991 duet was “the song that made Rod Stewart famous”) and paid homage (“You’re What I Look For” was dedicated to THE THIN RED LINE producer, Jim Vallance, who just happened to be at the show), while simultaneously keeping the crowd interested.  “Diamond Sun” and “Someday” are just as infectious live as on record and guitarist Al Connelly nailed the mighty opening riff of “Animal Heart.”  The band surprised me by playing “Healing Hands” from Frew’s 1994 solo album, HOLD ON, a solid song in its own right but many people seemed to be looking at each other wondering what album it was from.  All that changed when the band emerged for the encore of their most well-known track, “Don’t Forget Me (When I’m Gone).”  The crowd quite literally went berserk, jumping, dancing, singing and blowing off what last bit of steam remained after doing much the same for the previous three hours.

SETLIST
Thin Red Line
I Will Be There
You’re What I Look For
I’m Still Searching
Diamond Sun
My Song
My Town
Give It Away
Someday
(Watching) Worlds Crumble
Healing Hands
Animal Heart
~ENCORE~
Don’t Forget Me (When I’m Gone)

As far as “nostalgia tours” go, and I have seen my share, this was one of the better packages.  The target demographic for two hit-filled Canadian bands from the 80s is ripe for the picking and Honeymoon Suite and Glass Tiger brought in a respectable crowd who wanted to have some fun and forget about the fact that the kids were in bed at home and the babysitter was looking at her watch.


**Thanks to Jenny & Jamie at House of Blues and Tom Treumuth for the ticket & photo passes.

Glass Tiger’s official site
Honeymoon Suite’s official site

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