Paradise Skies, Lip Service, Gravity, Blue River Liquor Shine, Check, What Do You Do With The Urge, Battle Scar
Kim Mitchell - Vocals/Guitar
Gary McCracken - Drums
Mike Gingrich - Bass
Steve McMurray - Guitar
Greg Chadd - Keyboards
It was a strangely structured show. Front act Walter Rossi defied tradition by opening with a soft, almost juicy guitar instrumental. Max Webster's set through the rules to the wind by beginning with a drum solo.
The Walter Rossi Band — a blue-chip act on the eastern club circuit — is a concert ingenue, and last night it showed. Rossi and his sidemen lacked presence, but played with warmth and sincerity.
Max Webster, liek Rossi, is far better known in the Toronto-Montreal axis than in the boondocks, but the Websters have earned a sleeveful of stripes in large concert halls. Max Webster lacked warmth, but brimmed over with presence.
None of the guys in Max Webster goes by that moniker, but lead guitarist Kim Mitchell could be called Mr. Max, because he is virtually the band's vocal and visual show.
Mitchell has forsaken his skin-right yellow contemporary dancer uniform for a baggy, one-piece orange outfit and a yellow baseball hat (like the used to wear in L.A. three years ago). Last night he looked like a pit-stop mechanic in orange drag.
Mitchell gave the audience a heady dose of subtle, clever, thematic song intros. His black wit played with packed one-liners such as "Go for the magical - go for bravado", but the audience loved him anyway, even when he told fans they looked "delirious."
The audience heard some of its favorite Webster tunes, such as the ready-to-pounce Paradise Skies, the meticulously crude Lip Service, and the craftily-alienated Gravity. There were cuts from the new Universal Juveniles LP, including Blue River Liquor Shine, Check, and Battle Scar, although the band neglected to do its best-known song, Let Go The Line.
Mitchell's scratchy, nimble guitar, hollowed-out vocals, and perfunctory leaps, kicks, splits and strides did the trick, because 2,500 people wouldn't let the band leave until it did two steaming encores.
Rossi's set had a hard edge, but there was an undercurrent of lonely sensitivity. There were some get-down-to-business hard rock tunes, like the compact High Stakes From Your Love (the new single), but many songs were melodic, almost pretty - although never sentimental.
Rossi's voice, like a moan echoing through an alley on a vast empty night, sounded born out of some secret loss, some inarticulated private pain. His guitar wailed as hard and harsh as chalk scratching a blackboard, or wept as full and soft as a falling teardrop.
The audience wanted to hear more Rossi, but an encore wasn't allowed.