Concert reviews

In alphabetical order by artist (first name, for solo artists), reverse chronological for those with more than one concert report.


Adam Lambert The Original High

Adam Lambert live in Berlin

April 29, 2016, Huxley’s, Berlin, Germany

Wherein two Canadians travel to Germany to see an American in concert.

Live and on the CBC

August 18, 2016, The Jazz Room, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada (and also August 20, 2016, on the CBC)

Under “A” for Alysha Brilla, because she’s the one we saw live and in person, but also covering The Tragically Hip’s final concert, as it was shown on CBC television.

And also Martin Fry of ABC, performing with the KW Symphony and Jeans’n’Classics Band at Centre in the Square. Did not know much of their music in advance of this, but it does lend itself well to orchestration.


Barenaked for the Holidays

A Barenaked Christmas

December 2012, Centre in the Square, Kitchener, Ontario, Canada

The Barenaked Ladies joined forces with Kitchener Waterloo Symphony for a highly entertaining evening of “hits and holiday songs.” “I’m sure it was Jarek’s dream, when he immigrated from Poland to Canada as a violin player, that he’d one day get to play Journey tunes with the Barenaked Ladies.”—Ed Robertson of The Barenaked Ladies

I also saw the Brian Setzer Orchestra perform a Christmas concert at Centre in the Square, maybe in 2013 or 2014, something like that? Was quite enjoyable; I bought his Christmas album after that.

Blue Rodeo: Many a Mile album cover

The Blue Rodeo risk assessment

December 11, 2021, Centre in the Square, Kitchener, Ontario, Canada

(Links to a blog post.) The first big rock concert of the pandemic era—maybe not at the best time? But it was a good time.

How to compose popular songs that will sell - Bob Geldof

Bob Geldof and the Great Pumpkin

October 15, 2012, Centrepoint Theatre, Neapan, Ontario, Canada

The highlights of Bob Geldof’s terrific Ottawa area concert. (The last one he’s done in Canada… So far.)

How to Compose Popular Songs That Will Sell - Bob Geldof

Bob Geldof live in Ottawa

October 15, 2012, Centrepoint Theatre, Neapan, Ontario, Canada

And the full report on Bob Geldof’s terrific Ottawa area concert.

I also saw Bob Geldof perform at the Festival d’Ete du Quebec, probably in 2003? Recalled that it was quite rainy leading up to that outdoor show, but cleared up for it, and that we were in first or second row for all of it. It was a terrific show, but less “intimate” just due to the festival atmosphere.Met some other fans there; that was nice. Just missed meeting Bob himself afterward because we left too early.

Bob Geldof - Sex, Age, and Death cover

Me and Bob

September 20, 2002, Palais Royale, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Join us on our odyssey to the wilds of Toronto, where we saw Sir Bob Geldof give one of the best live performances ever. Warning: Many expletives within. (Or, just one, really, repeated many times.) And also, live sex.

And also Billy Joel, at the Montreal Forum, around 1987. Don’t recall much of it, but I believe I enjoyed it.


Carly Rae Jepsen Dedicated album cover

Things I learned at the Carly Rae Jepsen concert

September 18, 2019, Centre in the Square, Kitchener, Ontario, Canada

“Call Me Maybe” is not the high point of her career. Dedicated is not only the name of her latest album, but also of her fan base. And more!

 Cheap Trick Dream Police album cover

Cheap Trick

June 2019, Centre in the Square, Kitchener, Ontario, Canada

Go for the convenience, stay for the fun! After all these years, Cheap Trick has learned a trick or two about how to put on a great show.

And also Corey Hart, at the Sudbury Arena, around 1985. Mom took me and my sister. Many young women in the audience, much screaming!


Elvis Costello, Hummingbird Centre, Toronto, Ontario, July 30, 2012. Remember being very impressed with his voice (as I didn’t necessarily think of him as a great singer), surprised he didn’t talk to the audience more, and a bit disappointed he didn’t play “I Want You”—though overall, not a disappointing show.


Gowan I’ve seen in concert twice, once at an unpleasantly overcrowded show in Timmins, Ontario, and the second time at the much more pleasant confines of Centre in the Square in Kitchener. Here he performed his entire Strange Animal album with the KW Symphony and the Jeans’n’Classics band.


I won tickets to see Jann Arden in concert around 1993 or 1994, at Lulu’s in Kitchener, Ontario, mainly known for having the “longest bar in the world”. I think I only knew a couple of Jann’s songs at the time. I do recall the contrast between her rather serious songs and her very unserious between-song banter.

Jeans’n’Classics: This is a London (Ontario)-based group that features a rock band performing with a symphony orchestra. For years they partnered with the KW Symphony, and I went to many of those shows. Not a complete list, but some that I have written about:


k.d. lang and the Siss Boom Bang: Sing it Loud

Ladies and gentlemen, Ms k.d. lang

September 2012, Centre in the Square, Kitchener, Ontario, Canada

Sincerity and humour: A tour of the wonderful world of k.d. lang. Hallelujah.


Lowest of the Low Do the Right Now

Lowest of the Low live at Maxwell’s

January 20, 2018, Maxwell’s, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

My third time seeing Lowest of the Low live in concert. Not many know them. But those who do, like them a lot!

Lowest of the Low, Shakespeare my Butt

We paid $48 to watch someone do Pattycake

Lowest of the Low, 11 April 2011, Starlight Club, Waterloo, Ontario Canada; Toca Loca, 30 Aprils 2011, Kitchener, Ontario, Canada

A great performance by Lowest of the Low of their classic album in full was somewhat marred, for me at least, by the venue; and later on, we went to see the experimental Toca Loca as part of the Open Ears festival.


The Monkees Live; The Mike and Micky Show

The Mike and Micky Show (they were The Monkees)

June 18, 2018, Centre in the Square, Kitchener, Ontario, Canada

A photographer’s pass sweetened the deal, but it was a fun night out regardless at this concert featuring two of the original Monkees.


The Very Best of Prince

His name is Prince. And he is funky.

November 26, 2011, Air Canada Centre, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

In November 2011, I saw Prince in concert for the first and only time.

And also Pursuit of Happiness, at a very small club in Waterloo, somewhere around 1991.


Bohemian Rhapsody soundtrack

Very Important People at the Queen show

July 28, 2019, Scotiabank Arena, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Having VIP tickets to a very hot show: Queen + Adam Lambert in the wake of the unexpected success of the Bohemian Rhapsody movie.

Queen for a Day in Toronto

July 18, 2016, Air Canada Centre, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Queen + Adam Lambert in concert on Toronto 18 July 2017 (which happened to be our 25th wedding anniversary). Part of our “Royal tour” that summer.

Queen + Adam Lambert Live in Japan

Queen + Adam Lambert live in Toronto

July 13, 2014, Air Canada Centre, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

One of the earlier live performances of Queen with the then “new boy”, Adam Lambert.

The Queen Extravaganza: A Night at the Apollo

The Queen Extravaganza

May 2012, Grand Théâtre de Québec, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

We were there for the inaugural performance of this official Queen tribute band. And “there” was Québec City, of all places…

Queen A Night at the Opera

A night at the opera

April 2012, Massey Hall, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Almost every musician in Toronto was recruited to help re-create Queen’s classic album, A Night at the Opera, live in concert.

Also see: An Ironic Night at the Rock Opera, as that outing also featured a performance by Brian May and Roger Taylor.


Translucent Blues: Ray Manzarek / Roy Rogers

The Door, Live

August 2012, Kitchener Blues Festival, Kitchener, Ontario, Canada

Seeing Ray Manzarek, former keyboardist for The Doors, performing with Roy Rogers at the Kitchener Blues Festival. He did throw in a couple Doors songs.

Roger Daltrey presents The Who’s Tommy

September 29, 2011. Sony Centre, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

My second time seeing Roger Daltrey in concert, presenting the entirety of the Tommy album, along with some other tunes. No intermission, no encores.

Rocks in the Head album cover

Roger Daltrey: Use It or Lose It Tour

November 5, 2009. Casinorama, Orillia, Ontario, Canada.

Originally written on 8 November 2009, when I was in the middle of serious Daltrey-mania. About his concert at Casinorama. All photographs and most videos by Jean.

And also:

  • Ray Davies, March 30, 2006, Massey Hall, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Fun show, traditionally presented.
  • Ray Davies, October 1996, Danforth Music Hall, Toronto, Ontario, Canada—His Storyteller show, an acoustic performance in which he interleaved songs and stories. Highly original and enjoyable (and long! But I mean that in a good way!).


The Very Best of Sting and The Police

Sting live. In Kitchener?

June 17, 2013, Kitchener Memorial Auditorium, Kitchener, Ontario, Canada

When a star of Sting’s stature visits your home town’s hockey arena, you go! A report of this stop on his “Back to Bass” tour.

I also saw Sting at the Montreal Forum, in 1986 or so? Went with a friend from Timmins, while touring universities, as I recall…

Swing album cover

Swing in concert: Tout le monde debout, c’est le temps de danser!

November 14, 2014, Victoria Pavilion, Kitchener, Ontario, Canada

My favorite franco-Ontarian band drops by this anglo town and shows us all how to party.


Tanya Tagaq Animism

Rebel Music: Tanya Tagaq and the KW Symphony

February 2016, Centre in the Square, Kitchener, Ontario, Canada

You can only hear Tanya Tagaq for the first time once in your life. If you haven’t had the experience yet, I wish it for you.

And also Trooper! My first rock concert ever, in Timmins, at the McIntyre Arena, around 1983? (Most people my age from northern Ontario saw Trooper as their first rock concert, because they were about the only ones to tour up there.)


And also:

  • U2, September 16, 2009, Rogers Centre, Toronto, Ontario, Canada—Miserably slow drive to this show (attended with a friend), as we were competing with Blackberry employees who had been given free tickets. Only time for a terrible hot dog supper, then Rogers Centre… Not the best concert space. U2 were good, though.
  • U2, September 2005, Air Canada Centre, Toronto, Ontario, Canada—Not good recollection of this, beyond that I think I went with my brother-in-law and their friends, my sister being unable to attend due to work commitments.
  • U2, October 1, 1987, Olympic Stadium, Montreal, Quebec, Canada—The first and best U2 concert I attended, with university friends. We were in the floor area, and able to get reasonably close to the band. Bono later said this was one of their best concerts to date, where they succeeded in really connecting with a large stadium crowd.


For “Various artists”…

Celebrate Canada Day

Canada Day in Ottawa, 2008

July 1, 2008. Jacques-Cartier Park, Gatineau, Quebec, Canada

This secondary stage featured performances by Jordan Croucher, Suzie McNeil (the main draw for us), Eagle and Hawk, le groupe Swing (the band we ended up enjoying the most), and Sylvain Cossette (somewhat anti-climactic headliner). Also, there were fireworks.

And also:

  • Waterloo Jazz Festival—I’ve seen a couple notable (to me) performers here: Holly Cole and Emilie Claire Barlowe.
  • Amnesty International Concert for Human Rights—Went to this in 1988 or so, with a couple friends, in Montreal, at Olympic Stadium. We had terrible seats, but it was still fun to see Tracey Chapman, Daniel Lanois, Peter Gabriel, Sting (much competition for the binoculars here!), and Bruce Springsteen.


The Who album cover

The Who: Moving on! Live in Toronto

September 2019, Scotiabank Arena, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

The Who perform with full symphony accompaniment, exploring deeper cuts and showing they have some creative mileage left in them.

The Who hits 50 (or so)

March 1, 2016, Air Canada Centre, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Much-delayed but worth the wait, a straightforward celebration of The Who’s best. Floor seats!

Who's Next

Who’s Next at Massey Hall

November 2014, Massey Hall, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Hearing The Who’s Who’s Next live, note for note, cut for cut, in very tight quarters (courtesy of Classic Albums Live, not The Who themselves).

Quadrophenia album cover

Quadrophenia live on Grey Cup weekend

November 23, 2012, Air Canada Centre, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Our weekend in Toronto in November 2012, featuring a live performance of The Who’s Quadrophenia amidst some Canadian football frenzy.

I also saw The Who in 1989, on their second good-bye tour. This was via bus tour from Timmins to Toronto. Seats were decent and I enjoyed the show, though I didn’t retain too many details of it. They played at the CNE Stadium.

See also: Cultureguru Blog Live Music Tag.