Iconic 80’s pop rockers Glass Tiger, now celebrating 33 years of performing, opened a nostalgic night of live music featuring Ireland’s iconic cultural sensation The Chieftains, now celebrating their 57th anniversary, during The Chieftains and Friends, The Irish Goodbye Tour concert on The Colosseum stage at Caesars Windsor on Friday, October 18.
Glass Tiger founding members, frontman, singer, songwriter, and lead vocalist Alan Frew, keyboardist Sam Reid and guitarist Al Connelly, were joined by drummer Chris McNeill, bassist Tom Lewis, guitarist Russell Gray and curly haired background vocalist Carmela Long.
Founded in Newmarket, Ontario in 1983, Glass Tiger burst onto the music scene with their record setting award winning debut album, Thin Red Line, in 1986. The band opened the show with Don’t Forget Me When I’m Gone off of that album and the audience immediately began singing along and cheering. The song climbed to the US Top 10 and earned the 1986 Juno Award For Single of The Year. The album was awarded the 1986 Juno Award for Album of the Year and the band was awarded the 1986 Juno Award for Most Promising Group of the Year.
The following year Glass Tiger made Canadian history by taking home the 1987 Juno Award For Single of The Year for their hit Someday (reaching #7 on the Billboard chart). It was the first time an artist won Single of The Year two consecutive years in a row for singles from the same album.
The crowd was thrilled when the band performed Someday as the second last song in their set.
In between the band performed hits including Thin Red Line, the title track off their debut album, title track Diamond Sun and I’m Still Searching off their second album Diamond Sun released in 1988. From their 1991 album Simple Mission they performed My Town.
Newer music performed included Fire It Up and Wae Yer Family off of their 2018 album release simply titled 31 (a 31 year anniversary album). It may seem strange for a band to produce a 31 year anniversary album as opposed to one celebrating a 30 year milestone. Perhaps Frew’s health was the reasoning behind this, he suffered a stroke around that time but luckily, after lots of rehab, has fully recovered. With one audience member being overheard saying, “they sound exactly the same as they did in the 1980’s,” it’s hard to believe there were any health issues and that age hasn’t affected the band’s sound, especially when performing live.
31 is mainly a restyling of songs off their first three albums with collaboration from various individuals in the music industry. The songs they performed at Caesars Windsor were new for Glass Tiger. Fire It Up was actually written by Frew and Canadian Country Music star Johnny Reid. In 2012 Reid recorded and released the song and it was a big hit. Frew told the audience that England’s legendary Joe Cocker asked to record it and made it a big hit in Europe. Finally, Glass Tiger recorded it too for their 31 album as “a final homage to Joe” who passed away in 2014.
Wae Yer Family (With Your Family) was also a collaboration with Johnny Reid. Reid like Frew moved to Canada from Scotland as a teenager, Reid at 13 and Frew at 16. Frew told the audience that he likes to call Reid a good pal, and he also likes to call him the second best singer out of Scotland. “This is a song about life, love, family and friendship,” Frew told the crowd. All are things Frew has to come to appreciate and focus more on after his stroke.
During the concert Frew asked everyone to pretend they were back in 1986. He joked that back then he had more hair, and there was more mascara and eye shadow (even on him). He even reminisced about buying clothes at Le Chateau, joking about his sister stealing his pants to wear out on a date.
The reminiscing continued with Frew talking about the time Al Connelly, Sam Reid, and himself went to Vancouver to work with Jim Vallance.
“You may think you don’t know Jim Vallance but you do,” Frew explained. “Jim and Bryan Adams have been songwriting partners for years, all of your favourite Bryan Adams songs, Jim has been involved with that. I’ll give you an example, Bryan Adams is five years younger than I am and in the summer of 69, I was 13, that was one hell of a band Bryan had in the Summer of 69.”
“Anyway we met up with Jim and we wrote two songs with Jim on the very first day, a wee song called Don’t Forget Me When I’m Gone, that did ok, and then we wrote this one.” The band went into playing, as mentioned earlier, the second last song in their set, Someday.
Before wrapping up their set, Frew spoke about The Chieftains, calling them brilliant. Back in the late 1980’s Glass Tiger collaborated on their track My Song which featured The Chieftains.
Jokingly, Frew said when they were in Ireland and told people they were going to be working with THE ROCK STARS of Ireland, people began asking if they were going to be working with U2. He said he responded by saying, “with U2? Are you kidding, we’re going to be working with THE CHIEFTAINS!”
Earlier in the show the crowd was amused when Frew joked that he couldn’t understand “a bloody thing” The Chieftains were saying backstage because of their heavy Irish accents. He also hinted Glass Tiger would be joining The Chieftains on stage later during the show. “It’s been 33 years since we performed with The Chieftains,” he said.
Frew was speaking of the time Glass Tiger and The Chieftains were shooting a video together at a pub in Dublin, Ireland for My Song. Frew joked that at the time The Chieftains’ founding member Paddy Moloney was a little reluctant to perform in pubs. Moloney told Frew that in Ireland The Chieftains are kind of a big deal and don’t play pubs.
Glass Tiger closed out their set on The Colosseum stage with one of their latest original tracks, off their newest 2019 album release 33. The track is called This Is Your Life. The song which includes lyrics, “This is your life now, everything changes, you can never go back,” is inspired by Frew’s recovery from his stroke. “It really became apparent that this life we lead, we get one shot at it, it’s so precious, and it goes by so fast,” he said.
Before performing the song, Frew thanked and acknowledged Tim Trombley, Director of Entertainment at Caesars Windsor for not only having them on stage but for being a part of their start back in the 1980’s. At the time Trombley was working under Deane Cameron at Capitol Records (EMI Music Canada CEO for a quarter century). “We had a beloved pal who was the head of EMI at the time, he was Tim’s boss at the time, and sadly we lost him just a few months ago. And Tim if you’re out there we’re going to dedicate this to the loving memory of our friend from Capitol Records, Deane Cameron.”
Following Glass Tiger, six time Grammy Award winners, The Chieftains took the stage opening with several beautiful all instrumental traditional sounding Irish songs. The Chieftains are cultural ambassadors highly recognized for reinventing traditional Irish music on a contemporary and International scale. The band has been performing for over 57 years. They brought a wide variety of sound and instruments to the stage including flutes, harps, fiddles, whistles and a bodhrán drum.
Performing on the stage were 1962 founding member Paddy Moloney, along with core members Kevin Conneff from Dublin who joined in 1976, and Matt Molloy from Ballaghadereen in West Ireland who joined in 1979.
Early in the show a pair of special guest Canadian step dancers came out to dance an Irish jig which received a rousing response and cheers from the audience. Paddy Moloney introduced the two dancers as Nathan and Jon Pilatzke, explaining their style of dance is known as Ottawa Valley Stepdancing. The pair received loud applause.
In addition to dancing, Jon Pilatzke plays the fiddle with the band. Remaining touring band members joining them on The Colosseum stage were multi-instrumentalist and award winning fiddle player Tara Breen, critically acclaimed harp player Triona Marshall, and the newest member from Nashville, guitar and accordion player, Will MacMorran.
Just before Kevin Conneff sang the song, Here’s A Health To The Company, acapella he told the audience; “Even though we don’t have any up here, I’m going to sing a drinking song.” The audience cheered.
During the next song the audience’s energy level went up as they went into an Irish styled cover of Cotton Eyed Joe.
While it was 33 years since Glass Tiger performed with The Chieftains, they weren’t the only special guests to join the Irish legends on stage. Audience member John Neill told Eyes On Windsor he was excited to be there. He eagerly waited for Leamington’s Cardinal Carter Catholic High School Choir to make a special appearance with the band. John’s son, Jacob Neill, was among the choir members performing that night.
For more about Glass Tiger visit https://glasstiger.ca/
For more about The Chieftains visit https://www.thechieftains.com/
The show was part of the Caesars Windsor Cares 2019 Concerts For A Cure Series. The next show happens on November 7th featuring Walk off the Earth with special guest, fast rising local pop singer Christie Palace (Christie Palazzolo) opening the all ages concert.
Additional shows in the Concerts For A Cure Series include Grammy-nominated rapper, Logic and rising hip hop star YBN Cordae for an Ages 16+ performance (Nov 10), City and Colour (Nov 20), Charlie Brown Christmas – All Ages (Nov 23) and We Will Rock You – All Ages (Nov 29 & 30).
For more information or to purchase tickets please visit the Caesars Windsor Box Office or online go to https://www.caesars.com/caesars-windsor/shows