JULY 22nd 2016

Review by Lana Muirhead
Photos by Peter Ruttan

Photos: http://www.metaltitans.com/concertpics/big-wreck/

Big Wreck hasn’t been in the Vancouver area for more than 3 years and their latest album, Ghosts, was released in June 2014: all that is to say that Big Wreck fans still carry the torch as their July 22nd show at the Commodore sold out quick and easy.

Big Wreck brought along Royal Tusk – a new 5-piece out of Edmonton, Alberta, who just released their first full length, DealBreaker, in May of this year. Ian Thornley (lead vocals and guitar for Big Wreck) really took a shining to Daniel Carriere (lead guitar and vocals), Sandy McKinnon (bass), Quinn Cyrankiewiz (guitar), Calen Stuckel (drums) and Mike James (keyboards, guitar) and even laid some guitar tracks on their album.  Royal Tusk, very much in the vein of standard Canadian rock such as Monster Truck, The Glorious Sons and The Trews, is a hard-working group of guys who clearly love what they do.  Although only McKinnon looks and performs like he’s in a rock band, the remaining four have the musicianship and presence you would expect from seasoned showmen. They carried the receptive crowd through new tracks such as album titletrack “Dealbreaker” and “Fever”, and oldies off their EP “Shadow of Love” and “Smoke Rings”. When they closed out their set I was cursing them for choosing such a crappy pop-type tune; if a humble audience member may be so blunt.  The only redeeming quality was the apparent free-for-all instrumentals that closed it out.  Overall good stuff if you like a folky/rock-y/classic Canadian sound: I’m sure they’ll be staples on the radio shortly.

On the other hand, I was pretty pumped for Big Wreck – I saw them in a festival setting years ago but hadn’t had the experience of a smaller venue.  This was going to kick some serious ass!

The boys opened with “Look What I Found” but “That Song” immediately after eclipsed my initial excitement.  From there they hit the well-known “Wolves”, “Albatross”, and a newer single, “Ghosts”.  The crowd was more than riled when Thornley, Paolo Neta (guitar), Brian Doherty (guitar), Dave McMillan (bass), and Christopher Henry (drums) launched into the first lines of Alice Cooper’s “Another Brick In The Wall” and seamlessly folded into “Ladylike”.  The transition to “Blown Wide Open” was as silky as a Playboy’s lingerie and almost did for me what Nine Inch Nails’ “Closer” does (which is a little too X-rated to spew on an open website). They closed with “The Oaf” but came back in a furious encore with ACDC’s “Thunderstruck” (Neta took over on vocals) and finally “Come Again”.

The total fusion of the players on stage was simply masterful and although I’m sure these things are much more choreographed than I like to believe, it felt like an impromptu jam much like those at your local pickup open mic nights.  Thornley pulled a serious solo at the close of “The Oaf” further proving his and the band’s might as Canadian music making machines.

Whether you call them Thornley or Big Wreck, they tickled that one small heartstring I still have for lighter, Canadian-made rock and played it to the fray.  Serious ass was indeed kicked.