122795 Max Webster, Ottawa, ON

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I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to type the following sentence:  On December 27th, 1995 I saw Max Webster live in concert.

Max Webster has always been one of my favourite bands and the more musically mature and musically aware I’ve become after years of study and exposure to the wonderful world of rock & roll the more I’ve come to realize that Max Webster is quite possible the greatest rock band of all time.  The shredding, the eclecticism, the prog, the pop, the lyrics (of Pye Dubois*), the quirk, the riffs, and the quintessential fist-pumping factor; Max Webster has it all in spades.  But the band broke up years ago and the only solo act of any note to rise from the group’s ashes (Kim Mitchell) has never seemed too excited to even talk about Max Webster, let alone entertain a reunion tour.

Sure I’ve seen my share of Kim Mitchell shows and they are always great and his albums have produced some pretty admirable Canrock but it’s like Paul McCartney without The Beatles – despite the brilliance it just ain’t what it used to be.

The show was at a big, big bar in the ‘burbs of Ottawa.  I think I was only there one other time, for Stompin’ Tom Connors.  Maybe the place specializes in Canadian legends that don’t really tour anymore, which would explain why I don’t go there much.

In short: the concert was incredible.  The original quartet stood onstage and rocked the best of their material to a rabid crowd that was just as excited to be there as I was.  The Party, Diamonds Diamonds, Paradise Skies…if you don’t know the material I suggest you get on it.  

The band played their butts off, sticking pretty close to the studio versions of the songs with just a little extra jamming here and there.  It was such a joy to watch Kim tear through those angular guitar lines of his youth – the dude has an almost Zappa-esque approach to guitar soloing and he’s a heck of a player – and just a huge treat to actually witness an actual, real-live Max Webster show.

I have no idea what prompted such a reunion; maybe money?  If so, I hope they burn through every cent they made on this tour so they’ll have to go out on the road again.  I wouldn’t mind another MW show or two, that’s for sure.

*Did you know that Pye Dubois initially wrote the enormously successful song Tom Sawyer for Max Webster?  The band decided not to record it so Pye gave the song to Rush who turned it into one of their best-known hits.

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