June 9, 1977

Massey Hall

Toronto, ON


Oh War!, Gravity, In Context of the Moon, Diamonds Diamonds, Lily, Research (at Beach Resorts), Words to Words, On the Road, Summer's Up, America's Veins, Rain Child, Coming Off the Moon, Toronto Tontos, Only Your Nose Knows, Hangover, High Class in Borrowed Shoes, Here Among the Cats


In an interview a week before the show on CHUM FM with Rick Ringer, Kim says they're going to play a new song called The Party at their first show at Massey Hall. "We're the musicians here catching the colour of your skin," he says (this lyric was the predecessor to "we're just musicians here to thin the thickness of your skin").

The show was almost sold out with over 2,000 in attendance. They opened with Oh War!, and a fan recalls: "At the end of the song Kim asked the audience, 'What are you going to tell them when they ask you to go to war?' And the audience answered quite clearly with a loud and single voice... with 2 words."

They followed with almost the entire first two albums, and gave three encores.

After the final drum fanfare of America's Veins Mitchell quips, "Nikita Khrushchev on the drums."

Pye Dubois was introduced on stage for the first time at this show, coming out in a white lab coat.

Bob Mackowycz at Q107 reviewed the gig the next day: "Kim Mitchell delivers these lyrics with wit and intelligence, and frankly it just knocked me out that heavy metal could be done with style and with intelligence. It doesn't have to be all just a physical experience. There was something else happening with this group, and I found it fascinating. There's definitely another softer side to them, and personally I find their laid back stuff much more interesting. I think that with songs like Diamonds Diamonds, they're really at an international level. You really don't find very many metal bands attempting to change moods. I think I can only think of Led Zeppelin right off hand. And Max Webster, and I think it's a credit to them, have done that."

Many years later Terry Watkinson said these dates at Massey Hall were amongst his favourites with the band. "Just beautiful sound, and a nice intimate, ideal venue," he recalled.

In a 2017 interview Mike Tilka reflected on this night as well:

"Us headlining Massey Hall was a big thing. I mean, opening for Rush there three times was amazing, but to do our own show in that place was fantastic. Although I like to tell the story of how quickly we came back down to earth. We finished the gig, went back to the band house, showered up, jumped in the van and drove to Winnipeg to open for Styx. We didn't have a big party and say, 'oh boy, we've arrived.' We didn't have any of that. We just got in the van and drove ourselves to start a cross-Canada opening slot tour."

Other Bands on the Bill:

A Foot In Coldwater


The colour photos are © Scott Feeney.

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Kim Mitchell - Vocals/Guitar
Mike Tilka - Bass
Terry Watkinson - Keyboards
Gary McCracken - Drums


Aug 13, 1977

Max Webster - The band to break in 1977

by J. J. Linden
RPM Weekly
Saturday, August 13, 1977

Toronto-based Anthem recording group Max Webster, not so long ago a seemingly permanent fixture in the Ontario barroom and high school scene, have suddenly shifted into high gear with a new album release and major concert tours with such names as A&M's Styx and fellow Anthem group Rush, plus a triple encore headline date at Toronto's Massey Hall. The group's ascent toward top headliner status has been culminated to this point by their choice by a poll of some of Canada's major critics as the act to break internationally in 1977.

The climb toward the top began essentially, in May of 1976 with the release of their first album, titled after their name, on Taurus Records, a label owned by their management firm, Toronto-based SRO Productions.

Max Webster began their major concert career as special guests on the Rush's three-day spectacle at Toronto's Massey Hall, a series which was marked by the recording of Rush's double live gold album 'All The World's A Stage'.

In January of 1977, the group's career received another major boost when they signed an international recording deal for the world, except Canada, with Mercury Records. Following the deal, Mercury released the debut album in the U.S., repackaged and retitled Hangover. With the U.S. release, SRO decided to begin touring the band in the U.S.

Max Webster then embarked on the first of two major concert tours of the U.S. Midwest and Northeast as special guests with Rush, who were beginning to break big in the U.S. The tours, roughly 30 stops each, saw Max met by appreciative audiences at most of the dates, including major halls and arenas in cities such as Detroit, Cleveland and St. Louis.

Anthem's Tom Berry feels the tours were a major factor in the group's development as a tight, confident onstage act, inasmuch as their performance was fine-honed by the pressure of opening in front of large packed houses completely unfamiliar with their material. Berry's feeling has been profoundly borne out on two occasions to date. Following the first tour, the group returned to Toronto for their first ever concert headline, a double show March 26 at the New Yorker Theatre.

After the second tour with Rush, the band returned to Toronto for a Massey Hall headline debut June 9 which showed even more growth, as they completely captivated the large audience and earned a triple encore. The Massey Hall concert was marked by material from the group's second album, the first new album on the Anthem label titled 'High Class In Borrowed Shoes'. The album was released in May, simultaneously with its U.S. release on Mercury. Sales and airplay figures already show both album and band breaking nationally.

Immediately following the Toronto concert, the group embarked on a third major special guest tour, this time behind A&M recording group Styx on an 11-stop major western Canada tour. Again they were met with considerable support, enhanced even more by a week's outing at Vancouver's Bodyshop immediately afterward, the week of June 27.

The Max Webster stage show is a highly energetic display of sound and cation, ranging from the heaviest metal to gentle ballads, and even featuring the occasional acoustic solo by front man Kim Mitchell. The band consists of Mitchell on guitars and lead vocals, bassist Mike Tilka, keyboard player Terry Watkinson and drummer Gary McCracken. Tilka and Watkinson add supporting vocals, as do the Maxettes, a pair of female vocalists who occasionally appear with the group. A fifth, non-performing member of the band is lyricist Pye Dubois, a former psychotherapist at the Clarke Institute in Toronto, lends a touch of insanity to the group's image with his unusual lyrics.

For Max Webster, the future holds continuing growth and career development. SRO reports plans in the making for a northern Ontario headline tour in August, including a concert stop in Ottawa, where the group have had considerable success with their albums and previous engagements. The dates will mark the group's first headline concert tour ever, and will be opened by another Anthem group, A Foot In Cold Water, who also opened for the Massey Hall date.