Who watched the Watchmen? I did. I watched the Watchmen. A lot. Fourteen times live in the ’90s, actually. Which was amazing because they play a brand of mainstream Canadian rock and roll (made famous up here in the cold northlands by the Tragically Hip) that didn’t sit easily in my indie/alt/Britpop cassette and CD collection.
In fact, it was the Tragically Hip’s “fault” I became a Watchmen fan. Rather, their manager’s.
Quick story: on a plane ride to Vancouver (was off to San Fran with the ‘rents and Vancouver was a pit stop), a then-18 year old Mikala notices that the Hip are checking in on HER flight. She chats excitedly with them at the airport, goes to visit them at their seats and then begs them to do an interview for the newspaper she wrote for. She is told YES! and given the manager’s business card! She then proceeds to bug the manager for several months in the quest for said interview, while he ignores her. She eventually types up a well-written rant and faxes (yes! Faxes!) it over to him for maximum effect.
He calls her phone, explaining why it’s not possible to do the interview EVEN THOUGH THE BAND SAID YES, THERE ARE FIVE OF THEM, AND SHE WOULD ONLY REQUIRE A 10-MINUTE CHAT ON THE PHONE WITH JUST ONE OF THEM, and would she like to see this new band on their roster instead? They’re called the WATCHMEN.
Bah. But she goes. And Winnipeg’s Watchmen were up on stage, opening for 54.40, and Danny Greaves’ voice blows her little mind. The guitar’s awesome as well. She develops a schoolgirl crush. Presto instant Watchmen fan. She spends the rest of university dragging friends along for the ride. Sometimes it’s okay for a goth to dip into mainstream.
So the Watchmen broke up properly about 10 years or so ago, and reunited for a smattering of shows, including this one, to celebrate what the Canadians like to think of as “our SuperBowl”, the Grey Cup football finals, held on November 27. (Hilarious, really. AMERICA HAS THE SUPER BOWL! Canada has….a grey cup? Touchdown, Canadians, for your inferiority complex!)
On stage in Vancouver, in 2011, time was frozen like Winterpeg in February. Okay, not for us in the audience, cos we all looked WAYYY old. But there they were, the Watchmen, looking not a day over the 1990s. Danny Greaves still belting out with that MASSIVE voice. Bassist Ken Tizzard still wearing his sunglasses on stage (now with added elastic band to keep ‘em on his head) and doing the lanky bendy-knee bass poses. Sammy Kohn still studiously pounding away in the back. Joey Serlin, the comic book fan, still being a great guitarist and still (maybe?) a little spooked that I was standing right in front of him AGAIN for gig #15. It was like being back in university, minus the puking (though the Commodore’s wine in a can brought me close)!
The band opened with “Boneyard Tree”, which dove into “Say Anything”, “Any Day Now”, “Incarnate”, the crunchy “Run & Hide” from debut McLaren Furnace Room (also from MFR was “I’m Still Gone”, which weaved in Men at Work’s “Down Under”) then railed through an amazing “Stereo”, “All Uncovered”, and a nice little cover of R.E.M’s “Driver 8″.
It all sounded sharp, yet had the comforting glow of terrestrial Canadian radio. We all sang along, and it felt…just good. And afterwards, when the band all admitted to me that “Yeah, I remember you!”, I felt pretty okay with the fact that the Tragically Hip had totally dissed me.\m/
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