A Weekend With Helix on The Rock
Review and Photos by Celtic Bob
It was an early Thursday morning rise and an weekend of music and good times would begin shortly. After the final shift of work for the week I grab a quick shower and with my partner in crime hit the highway. After a four hour journey a night’s rest was in order for what was about to happen over the next few days.
Friday morning came all too quick. We grabbed some breakfast and headed to the airport to meet up with the band. Upon their arrival and meeting with the promoter for that evening’s event we all jump in vehicles and head to the hotel to check in. This was just the beginning. Shortly thereafter a couple guys head out to see the city while the others decided to rest up for the night.
A few hours passed and it was nearing showtime. The Rockhouse was filling up with fans and the temperature was rising quick. The opening act; Two Guitars Clash did an excellent job of warming up the crowd for The Hardest Working Band In Canada.
The classic 80’s line-up of Brian Vollmer, Brent Doerner, Daryl Gray and Greg Hinz along with new guitarist Kaleb Duck (Yes, that’s his real name) hit the stage and had the joint rocking for the entire duration of their set. They covered all bases from “Billy Oxygen” to “Make ‘Em Dance” off the latest studio disc VAGABOND BONES. The setlist was an excellent mix of old and new. Watching the classic line-up brought me back to when I first saw them live in ’86 on the LONGWAY TO HEAVEN tour.
This was my first time seeing Kaleb “Duckman” Duck play. I had met him a few weeks prior at The Doctor’s house. Watching him play will put you in mind of a young Zakk Wylde. I am not talking the bell-bottomed Zakk, I am talking current Zakk. He has a bit of that image and playing style. Duckman is a fantastic guitarist and fits in with the Helix band with ease.
The next morning it’s another early rise as we have to hit the highway for the next gig. Randy the Merch guy, Sully The Soundman along with Brent, Kaleb and Daryl take the rental while Brian and Fritz travel with us for an almost 4 hour drive across this beautiful Province. The sun was shining and you couldn’t ask for better as tonight’s show was an outdoor festival with Prism and Doug & The Slugs.
We arrive in Lewisporte shortly after 3pm just in time for scheduled soundcheck. After a few technical difficulties the band runs through a couple of numbers then head to the hotel to gear up for tonight’s show. This is the second year in a row Helix has been booked for this festival.
Doug & The Slugs (Ed. Note. without Doug who passed away a few years ago) opened the show and did a good job. They were nothing spectacular but they were fun to watch and were tight musically.
Next on the bill was Helix (Ed.Note. who should have been the Main Act, but anyway). Much like the previous night the setlist was a good mix of new and old songs. The setlist was slightly shorter due to time restraints. Each member had their turn in the spotlight for solo sections. You don’t really appreciate the musicianship of an artist until they can hold the interest of a crowd during a solo spot.
Following the Helix set another Canadian band took to the stage and did a fine job. This was my first time seeing Prism live so I was stoked. I never realized how many songs they had that I was familiar with. I spent the majority of their set in the trailer listening to them from afar. Myself and Fritz went up to side stage for a bit to check out the excellent drumming. During this time Brian was out in the Merch tent meeting fans and signing things. Each member met with fans and signed stuff throughout the night.
After Prism a local band called Mill Road went on around midnight to a thinned out crowd. They played more traditional and celtic songs for the late night partiers in the beer garden. Being a fan of Mill Road I was sticking around to see them play. There was only a few of us left in the trailer and Daryl being from Ireland was enjoying the sounds coming from the stage. We head up to the stage for a better listen. As we were standing on the back of the stage unknown to the band, Will announced that they were dedicating “Black Velvet Veil” to the ‘Irish Guy In Helix’ and as he turned around from the mic saw Daryl standing at the back of the stage enjoying the music.
Being only a short distance from home we headed out on the lonely TCH (Trans Canada Highway for the non-Canadians reading this). An early Sunday rise with coffee in hand we headed back to Lewisporte to see the band before they headed home later that day. We sat and had breakfast with them and said our farewells before heading off again to return to our normal (Whatever the fuck normal is) after an excellent weekend of Rock n Roll and the best weekend of summer.