090493 Jethro Tull/Procol Harum, Toronto, ON

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I’m not sure if September 4th, 1993 was the first time I went to see a concert at Kingswood Amphitheatre in Toronto’s Canada’s Wonderland but it could very well have been.  It was certainly the first time I saw Jethro Tull*, and stands as the only time I saw ’60’s orchestral rockers Procol Harum, who opened the show.

It was a beautiful late summer evening and we were a crew of four sitting on the lawn; myself, my good friend Corey, and our girlfriends, who bore a striking resemblance to one another such that they were constantly accused of being sisters.  Oddly enough, someone came out of the blue at this concert and, ignoring the ladies altogether, asked Corey and I if we were brothers.  I assure you, that had never happened before or since.  Corey and I do not look at all alike.

Anyway, it was Corey’s birthday (or a day off from Corey’s birthday – which would have made it my girlfriend’s birthday – but close enough to consider it a birthday show for both of them) and Tull was one of his favourite bands.  At some point during setbreak my girlfriend and I stole away and bought Corey a concert program as a last-minute birthday gift.  I almost didn’t, priced as high as it was versus my student budget, but when I took a closer look it seemed pretty extensive so we did.

Back at our chunk of lawn we had barely sat down when Corey spotted someone walking by holding the very concert program that we had hidden away to give him, and he started ranting about how stupid people were to drop so much money on something so dumb as a concert program.  “I mean, it’s insane, a bunch of glossy pictures that aren’t even from this tour, and they are charging what, $25 for one?

“Morons!”

Of course I took exactly that moment to present Corey with his present.  I still remember the look on his face, and yeah, it was just like the one you’re probably imagining: Shock, horror, and severe back-pedalling with his foot shoved firmly into his mouth.  It was pretty glorious.  

Especially when Corey started flipping through the thick tome and found that it contained a full archive of the band’s long and storied career; every show was listed, every venue, ticket prices, personnel changes…everything.

“Hey, this is actually pretty excellent…” 

Then Jethro Tull came on and were fantastic, putting on a long and varied show that followed an excellently paired opening set by the aforementioned Procol Harum.  

But really, the big memory was the impromptu birthday present.  I relish seeing Corey on our nearly-annual meetup at Blue Skies Music Festival nearly every summer, if only so I can watch him squirm while I tell the story again.  

It’s become tradition.

*Wrong!  Turns out I saw Jethro Tull in Ottawa at least a year before this.  Geez, you’d think I’d do a little research…

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