Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Tuesday Treasures

Tom the backroads traveller hosts this weekly meme.

June 2018 - Toronto ON

I mentioned in our weekly recap that we went to Massey Hall last week to see Gordon Lightfoot.

More Lightfoot on Foto Tunes

Massey Hall in the daylight. For over 115 years these famous red doors have welcomed audiences to a variety of performances.

Yesterday I featured Lightfoot on Foto Tunes.

This concert was significant for several reasons, not the least that Lightfoot is now 79 years old and a Canadian icon.

Due to overwhelming demand a third performance was added for Sunday, July 1st.

Multiple JUNO Award winner, Grammy nominee, Canadian legend and the first-ever Massey Hall Honours Award recipient Gordon Lightfoot returns to Massey Hall with his band for back-to-back-to-back performances as the final artist to perform before the Massey Hall Revitalization Project closes its iconic red doors until Fall 2020. He has played here "over 166 times" so who better to put it to bed?

Massey Hall is undergoing the most significant renovation in its 124 year history and will close for two years beginning in July. The Revitalization will protect and celebrate Massey Hall's heritage and build a lasting legacy for artists and fans.
Click here for a virtual tour.

The project will restore and renew both the interior and exterior of this National Historic Site, improve patron amenities and accessibility, open two new music venues, and see the return of the original, 124 year-old stained glass windows.
Lightfoot began his series of annual concerts at Massey Hall in March 1967 with two sold-out concerts. His unofficial Massey Hall debut occurred in his youth when, at age 10, he entered the Kiwanis Music Festival held at Massey Hall and won first place in his category. With over 166 performances logged to date, Lightfoot has performed at Massey Hall more than any other individual artist.
Lining up we were asked to sign waivers as they were filming the concert.

Before we sat down we checked out the Centuries Lounge and Bar.

Centuries Bar & Lounge is located on the lower level and is designed to reflect the historic charm of Massey Hall. Both the entrance corridor and the interior walls of Centuries are lined with a nostalgic tour of Massey Hall photos and memorabilia dating from 1894.


Many dignitaries have attended the hall since its inauguration. In 1901, the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York (the future King George V and his wife Queen Mary) visited with Canadian Prime Minister Wilfrid Laurier.

Famous figures have appeared on the broad stage of this stately hall, including Montserrat Caballe, William Booth, Maria Callas, Enrico Caruso, Winston Churchill, George Gershwin, Glenn Gould, Vladimir Horowitz, Dalai Lama, Luciano Pavarotti, Ravi Shankar, Bob Dylan, Cream, Neil Young, Thomas Mann, The Kinks, Billy Joel, Lenny Kravitz, Oscar Peterson, Joe Satriani and Arturo Toscanini.

Neil Young's performance on January 19, 1971 was recorded and later released as a live album, entitled Live at Massey Hall 1971.

Rush, in June 1976, recorded the live album All the World's a Stage here.

Matthew Good performed and recorded his concert, on May 29, 2008, which was released as a live album, entitled Live at Massey Hall.

During Natty Dread Tour, Bob Marley and The Wailers performed for the first time in Toronto on June 8, 1975.

On January 8, 1995, Ronnie Hawkins celebrated his 60th birthday by throwing a concert here, which was documented on the album Let It Rock. The concert featured performances by Hawkins, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, The Band and Larry Gowan. Jeff Healey sat in on guitar for most, if not all, of the performances. Hawkins' band, The Hawks, or permutations of it, backed most, if not all, of the acts. All of the musicians performing that night were collectively dubbed "The Rock ‘N’ Roll Orchestra.

Max Webster a Toronto band headlined at the venue in 1977 and again in 1978 as well as opening for Rush for three nights in June 1976.

Kim Mitchell, former guitarist and lead vocalist of the band Max Webster, played to a capacity crowd in 1984 after the release of his platinum selling album Akimbo Alogo.

American rock band Van Halen played their first ever Canadian concert on March 14, 1978 to a capacity crowd at the venue.

Canadian rock band Spirit of the West's 2015 concert at the venue, and the preparations for it, are profiled in the 2016 documentary film Spirit Unforgettable.

Toronto-born comedian Russell Peters filmed his Netflix Original stand-up special Almost Famous over two nights at Massey Hall in April 2016.

On his first solo tour, after One Direction went on hiatus, English singer Harry Styles performed at the venue on October 4, 2017. His tour sold out in seconds, setting a new Ticketmaster record.

Finnish symphonic metal band Nightwish performed at the venue on March 21, 2018 as part of their Decades: World Tour.

We saw Vince Gill here in February 2002 in an extraordinary one man show, just him and his guitar This Old Guitar and Me.

It was the site of the legendary Charlie Parker-Dizzy Gillespie concert, recorded as Jazz at Massey Hall, in May 1953. Accompanying Gillespie and Parker in this acoustically sound hall were Bud Powell, Max Roach and Charles Mingus.

It holds 2,753 people and it filled up quickly.

With no fanfare or introduction Lightfoot took the stage to a standing ovation.

The voice is older and huskier but he still performs.

His band were incredible, the acoustics in Massey Hall let you hear every single sound.
Rick Haynes, Bass
Barry Keane, Drums, Percussion
Mike Heffernan, Keyboards
Carter Lancaster, Lead Guitar

This is a soundtrack of his show two years ago that is pretty much the same format/agenda as the one we saw, that is not a criticism.

During intermission we stepped out for some photos.

Knighted in 1935 for services to music in Canada, Ernest MacMillan was a familiar figure to adults and school children alike. A composer and organist, he was for many years conductor of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and of the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, principal of the Toronto Conservatory of Music and dean of the Faculty of Music at the University of Toronto. MacMillan worked tirelessly to promote music and musicians at all levels. He supported new national music organizations, published widely, conducted local orchestras and choirs and adjudicated at music festivals in cities and towns across the country.

Over and we step out into a crowded balmy Friday evening. It will be a shame to see the lights out for two years.


  1. ...oh I love that sign! Lot of music's great have preformed at Massey Hall. Great to know that this landmark is being restored. Thanks Jackie for sharing, enjoy your week.

  2. You are certainly fortunate to have been there and then. This post is a great souvenir from your evening enjoying the music and the venue. Can't imagine how things will be improved upon, but am looking forward to seeing stained glass windows!

  3. A pretty hall with a great history!
    Greetings from Germany

  4. Hopefully Gordon can open it up again with a concert when the time comes.


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