(Glory Days: The Bruce Springsteen Experience tribute band, featuring Serge Tremblay as Bruce Springsteen, performing at the St. Clair College Centre for the Arts on Saturday, January 18 ,2020. Photo above by Robert Tuomi / Eyes On Windsor.)
For a few hours on Saturday night, the St. Clair College Centre for the Arts was “a rockin’” with the best music of the 70s and 80s. In fact, it is a good job the building has very solid rafters because there were times the born in the USA “boss” was about ready to knock the roof off and most of the socks of those in the audience.
A unique five-piece back up ensemble delivered the perfect E-Street Band sound and stood proudly behind and with Sault Ste. Marie’s Serge Tremblay. Tremblay has more than a passing resemblance to Bruce Springsteen. It is so close that the audience spontaneously chanted, “Bruuuuce,” between songs, a tradition at actual Springsteen events.
It was a decade ago when Tremblay broached the thought of a Springsteen tribute band to a few good musicians he knew in Toronto. They were enthusiastically supportive of a project which turned out to be a natural enough idea. Tremblay was often recognized in the streets as Springsteen. He tells Eyes on Windsor it continues to happen, although not as much now that he is older and wears glasses.
At the time Glory Days, A Bruce Springsteen Experience, the name of the show, was put together Tremblay had yet to actually see Springsteen perform and relied on videos to get the moves down pat. Since then he’s attended a few Springsteen concerts and operates one of the few Springsteen tribute shows around.
A highlight, of course, is Tremblay performing not only a harmonica for some songs, but also a Fender Telecaster in about the same shape as Springsteen’s although Springsteen does have a modified version. One of the key ingredients of the Springsteen sound is at times a heavy reliance on the saxophone and the organ. Easily mastered by Montreal’s Neil Brathwaite on the “phone” and retired Toronto teacher Bill Evans on the keyboard. In the back row and quite pivotal to the night’s music is bassist Henry Wilk and drummer Paolo Erme.
If an audience dancing the night away is any clue, it was a pretty perfect night of Springsteen rock and roll. It was not unusual to see Tremblay on the dance floor dancing with them in the manner and fashion of Springsteen. And, at one point an audience member wearing a Hungry Heart t-shirt joined him on stage.
Joe D’Angelo, operations director of the St. Clair Centre tells Eyes on Windsor Glory Days is one of three major events the Centre plans for the first months of the year. The reason for such an early start, he explains, is because many in the city are getting cabin fever, and these programs bring some excitement to dull winter weekends.
Excitement and good food. The evening is catered by the College’s Culinary Management program which takes the time to cook up something reflective of the tribute act. In the case of Springsteen, the entree of chicken is augmented with a special New Jersey sauce. Dessert is a delightful Boston Crème doughnut, homage to a Boston newspaper critic who helped Springsteen finish his Born to Run album.
And while Tremblay is an almost perfect mirror image of Springsteen, Glory Days came with a very close substitute to E Street Band’s lead guitarist Steven Van Zandt. The band has long been Springsteen’s backup group and also developed its own career, a testament to its quality. Tremblay’s replica E Street Band misses no beats and keeps the music rocking with just the right measure of perfection.
Springsteen’s music is so well-known, it is not hard to sing along to such great songs as Born to Run, Thunder Road, Hungry Heart, Dancing in the Dark and Glory Days, to name a few. But the night was not all rock and roll.
Springsteen’s roots are in folk music. To round out the program, Tremblay slowed the pace a few times with a few ballads, giving the audience time to slow the pace on the dance floor.
All in all, Tremblay and his cast of five, were cheered for bringing a so real concert experience to the city, one, which, by the way, was sold out. The energy and the performance certainly generated incredible memories to those who braved a winter night to rock with the Boss.
For more about Glory Days: The Bruce Springsteen Experience visit http://glorydays.ca
Next up at the St. Clair Centre is Tony & Tina’s Wedding, also a dinner and show evening, on Saturday, February 15 followed by the Adam D. Tucker, as Tim McGraw, dinner and show, Saturday, March 7.
For more information about these upcoming events and shows at St. Clair College Centre For The Arts / The Chrysler Theatre visit http://www.chryslertheatre.com
Article by Robert Tuomi
For over a decade, Robert has covered local news and community events. Initially as a contributor to CBC Radio’s local morning show and then as the long-time producer and host of CJAM’s The Rest of the News and as a journalist at the Windsor Square. A graduate of the Nikon School of Photography he enjoys illustrating his reports with what he sees through his camera’s lens.