Only in our beloved home town, playing one last time on home ice at the Commodore, could we have experienced the loving and tumultuous farewell that we received. An outpouring of unbelievable emotional power faced us and bathed us the entire night. I fully expected to be moved, to be emotional, but the sheer physical force of the audience was so overwhelming that I kind of left my body and watched the event from somewhere outside, hovering above the action.
Flashes of memory will stay with me – moments of seeing Johnny leaping one last time like his pants were aflame, giving the audience every ounce he could muster; Geoff Kelly spinning around and leaping back to the drum riser just long enough to wet his whistle before ramming back into the breech, onto the mic, into the spotlight, to hold our hearts in the palm of his hand. Hugh McMillan, sober and serious, looking like a surgeon in action, pouring so much fucking mustard into his bass solo that I almost shit myself in public. Tobin the Gull Frank watching with glowing joyful pride as his 11 year old son stormed about the stage – veritably owning the place and stealing all the charisma that Dad was supposed to bring with him to work. Harder holding down the left wing like a besieged gunner, covering the guitar parts, the background vocals, the lead vocals and still leaping about like a tit. Kenny Carson peering over her fiddle at me with suffusing love and affection for this dying old warhorse who gave every fibre of his remaining being to those last shows. If a man must die, he might as well die on stage, in Vancouver, in front of the audience he loves and who love him back.
My intention was to write a post-mortem of the show on Saturday but to be honest the amount of stimulus, colour, memory and power that I, we, are processing will take some time to collate and sort. I think I ought to write a few little articles — and I shall.
But imagine if you will the viewpoint of this beat up old drummer, a central figure in the organization for decades, whose overarching career goal has always been to build something that is a living breathing family that will go-on beyond us and our mortal lives and reflect well on our country. Think what it was like for me to gaze at those kids I have mentored and encouraged – Kendel Carson, Ellis Frank, Ben Kelly. Tremendous musicians all. Imagine my fullness of heart as I glanced stage right and saw all the other kids, and the children of our friends The Odds, and my baby Grandson Ollie. And those magnificent wives who support their nutbar husbands. And the friends who will literally give up an organ for you. An organ for chrissakes. And our community of family, musicians, and friends who built the first generation of totally, truly and utterly Canuck rock stars. Then I looked forward and saw my bandmates, a small cadre of the finest people I have ever known, who toiled and laughed and cried together for three and a half decades. Our brotherhood will live on well beyond our life on earth, through our families, through our music, and greatly through you our incomparable fans.