Thrush Hermit – Sticky Magazine

THRUSH HERMIT Reunites Ahead of Box Set Release

Thrush Hermit Reunites Ahead of Box Set Release
By Pete Nema

When Thrush Hermit announced they were planning a reunion tour, the shrieks of indie-rock excitement from New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Ontario could probably be heard country-wide.

Thrush Hermit

Although Thrush Hermit has more than enough material to fill a show, the band only produced two full-length albums before breaking up. The split occurred shortly after their 1999 release of Clayton Park, the album that, without a doubt, contained their best work. And now over 10 years later, Lee’s Palace was packed to capacity on a Friday night for the first sold-out Toronto show, filled with fans, many who had likely come of age during the 90’s. I suspect another large portion was made up of Joel Plaskett (vocals, guitar) fans who had the initiative to discover his previous work.

The set list was designed to be a crowd pleaser, with material from Sweet Homewrecker making up the majority of the first half of the concert and the Clayton Park tracks largely saved for the latter half of the show. Songs like “These Violent Dreams” were extended with appropriately heavy rocking out. If you weren’t stuck firmly near the front, you could see that some of the less-loved material was used for bathroom breaks. The proper set closed with “The Day We Hit The Coast”, the song that was stuck in my head all day before the show, and as a result I drew a blank thinking about what they were saving for the encore. They returned to stage, and when Rob Benvie (guitar, vocals) hit the first note, it was obvious I had foolishly forgotten that we hadn’t yet heard “From The Back Of The Film”. For that song, Plaskett grabbed a double-headed handheld light and shone it at himself, the other band members, and the crowd while he and the band worked through the excellent rendition we all were hoping for when we arrived. There was absolutely no shortage of singing-along.

There was more to the show than was immediately obvious. The band had apparently dressed as they did back in the 90’s, and little hints of their past could be found if you looked around. I never saw Thrush Hermit play in the 90’s, so I wasn’t sure what Ian McGettigan (bass) was wearing around his shoulders and neck (in addition to his shirt, see the photos) or why the keyboard had a piece of tape with the word “Situation” written on it. I do know the band members were into Springsteen, so at least understood why Plaskett had a Bruce Springsteen ticket from a 1985 concert taped to his guitar, although I was surprised to see it was for Wembley Stadium in the U.K.

We were all there for the same reason: To celebrate some of our favourite music of the past with its creators. In terms of musicianship, we couldn’t have asked for more — full and heavy guitar riffs, vocals as sharp as when the songs were recorded, and good interplay between the band members. Although not every song in the Thrush Hermit repertoire is a hit, there was something to be said for getting to see and hear the band play even the less famous songs.

The two dates scheduled for Toronto turned into three when they added a dry all-ages show on the Sunday afternoon, bringing the total number of reunion shows to nine. I was curious how Sunday concert was going to turn out given the time of day and the lack of alcohol, but if my Twitter feed can be trusted, it was just as satisfying. The tour completed just one day before the release of their discography, The Complete Recordings, on March 29th. The package contains a mind-boggling amount of material, including demos, outtakes, and two DVDs filled with video content.