Dwayne Gretzky @ Horseshoe Tavern

. : : October 31st, 2012 : : .

What better way to celebrate this year’s Valentine’s Day than with remembering last year’s Hallowe’en?

Sure, it might be weird to celebrate Valentine’s Day by listening to songs such as The Talking Heads‘ “Psycho Killer” and Michael Jackson‘s “Thriller“, but also kind of awesome, amirite?!

Maybe, maybe not. Regardless, this past Hallowe’en, I introduced my brother to what I described as “unquestionably far and away the best cover band in Toronto, hands down.” He raised an eyebrow. “Who do they cover?” “EVERYBODY!”

It was clear that this Hallowe’en show would be special. Dwayne Gretzky would be pulling out all the stops, and there was sure to be unusual holiday-friendly songs added to their already varied set lists. We weren’t in the Horseshoe Tavern for long before seeing I was guaranteed to be at least half-right. The stage was absolutely tricked out with cotton cobwebs and a mist of dry ice, and both band and audience members could be seen as dressed up as various ghouls and goblins.

The band had barely taken the stage before the dance floor up front literally filled with people. It was shoulder-to-shoulder, chest-to-shoulder-blade with everyone around us, made ever so much more uncomfortable by the fact that it’s virtually impossible not to dance when these guys start rocking. It’s something that really needs to be experienced live to be fully understood, but it was one part disgusting to three parts exhilarating.

In spite of lacking in original material (that’s not the point — all members contribute to other bands; this is a “supergroup side project” of sorts), this band puts on one of the best, most exciting and unpredictable live shows I’ve ever seen. Detractors might argue the use of nostalgia as a crutch, and generally I’d tend to agree with such philosophy, but at not-quite three-decades old, I was among the oldest members in the audience and the majority of the material performed outdates even me! Instead, the band hops from one expertly performed pop song to another, and familiarity with the tune has only a little to do with the enjoyment.

The band played two hour-long sets. I only captured the first because of the band’s well establish propensity to play long into the early hours of the morning, and a mix of reliance on the soon-closing subway line and work early the next morning means I almost always have to leave well before the final note rings out, and I didn’t want to suffer any reluctance to prematurely end the recording, which could easily cost me the $50 a cab ride home would incur.

Oh, well. There’s more than enough here to tide over any Dwayne Gretzky fan, and although there’s plenty here for non-fans to really get behind, I can’t stress how essential it is to experience these guys live. The electricity in the air, the bouncing, sweaty bodies, the loud music — this is all things that don’t translate to an audio recording with any finesse. But it’s the best I can do with what I have, and I’m fairly confident you will love it.

Enjoy and happy Hallowe’en — errr, Valentine’s Day.

01. [introduction]
02. Psycho Killer [Talking Heads]
03. Down In Mexico [the Coasters]
04. Let Me Roll It [Paul McCartney]
05. [banter]
06. Be My Baby [the Ronettes]
07. Say That You Love Me [Fleetwood Mac]
08. Please Please Me [the Beatles]
09. [banter]
10. Power of Love [Huey Lewis and the News]
11. Sweet Fantasy [Mariah Carey]
12. Oh, Darling! [the Beatles]
13. Just What I Needed [the Cars]
14. [banter]
15. Monster Mash [Bobby “Boris” Pickett and the Cryptkeepers]
16. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road [Elton John]
17. [banter]
18. Thriller [Michael Jackson]

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Power of Love (Live In Toronto) [MP3 sample]

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