On February 1st, 1988 I went to Moncton’s Club Cosmopolitan (The Cosmo, we called it) to see Canadian non-icons FM in concert.
It’s not like I was a big fan of the band. They were an underground Toronto prog-rock group most famous for electric violinist Nash The Slash, who’s catchy nom de plume and schtick of performing with a bandaged head and top hat was irresistible candy for entertainment section editors. He even sued Pepsi once for including a likeness of his character (two, actually) in one of their television commercials.
Though I had heard of the band and was familiar with Mr. The Slash I had never actually heard their music before. I went to this show out of desperation. As starved as I was for live music in Moncton at the time, I would lay out $10 to see pretty much anything playing at a bar downtown, which didn’t happen often.
So off to The Cosmo I went, and aside from the pleasure of being in a horrible dance club without having to listen to horrible dance music (except during the setbreak) I was treated to a heck of a show. It being prog-rock there were no real toe-tappers and audience sing-alongs were at an all-time low, but four guys on tour smacking out angular tunes with confidence, agility, and a bandaged-up showman kept me engaged all night. Nash The Slash filtered his violin through every effect pedal imaginable and wowed the crowd with sounds both ethereal and shattering. The rest of the band chugged along in rhythmic unison, locked in a perpetual Bugs Bunny background behind the shimmering, towering violin.
It wasn’t the kind of show where you walk away humming the melodies. Rather you walk out shaking your head at the virtuosity (or perhaps the schtick and the effects pedals – it depends on your age and experience level I guess) and, in my case, the euphoria of seeing a real-live touring band in an actual bar right here in my hometown.