Big Wreck delivers big performance

Review: Big Wreck @ Burton Cummings Theatre

As I locked my car door and jogged across the street to The Burt, I became increasingly sad.

The last time I saw Big Wreck was with my Dad. He was a big fan of guitarists but had never seen Ian Thornley live. Big Wreck was opening for Theory of a Deadman (TOAD) and I convinced my Dad to come with me. While I’m not a fan of TOAD, I really like Ian Thornley and I knew my Dad would see why during the show.

Unfortunately, that was the worst Big Wreck show I’ve ever seen. The sound was so loud and distorted that my Dad actually asked for my spare set of ear plugs. It was Brutal (with a capital “B”). Their whole show vibrated and thumped in our chests as we sat there trying to decipher some sort of melody in all that noise.

The sound improved for TOAD, (or maybe we got used to it) and my Dad ended up enjoying their set more than Big Wreck. #Backfire.

He died suddenly in September, so he never truly got to experience Ian Thornley.

Once I found my seat, I felt much better. My lovely friend Kim was there with her Husband and I enticed her to sit with me to share my Jenna Rae macarons.

She ate my cookies, lifted my spirits and then went back to sit with her Husband. Honestly, I have the most wonderful friends.

Ascot Royals on stage at The Burt. /ANNE MARTIN

Ascot Royals opened the show. They had great energy and seemed to really enjoy what they were doing.

They played mostly rock tunes and they played them well. I think if I was younger I would have really enjoyed them, but their stuff was a bit too standard and generic for me.

I’m at the point in my life where I want songs to move in different directions and I find it hard to get swept away with songs that don’t really go anywhere. Nevertheless, the band was fun and they did their job; I think the crowd was warmed up after their set.

After the applause died down, about 800 stage hands swarmed the stage to tear down the equipment. Why there were so many roadies? Is it a union thing? It seemed excessive.

The temperature in the first balcony also seemed excessive. Holy smokes was it hot in there.

I did something a bit different for this show. I almost never research bands or songs before shows. I love to go in completely unaware of what’s going to happen.

This time, I actually bought and listened to Big Wreck’s new album “Grace Street”, quite regularly. I’m really glad I did that, because they played a lot of songs off the new album (six of 15 songs).

Big Wreck entertained an enthusiastic audience at The Burt. /ANNE MARTIN

Big Wreck walked on stage and I thought they looked a bit sparse. Then I realized guitarist, Paulo Neta wasn’t there; apparently he left the band about a month ago. Darn.

They started with “One Good Piece Of Me” and by the second song, “I Digress”, the audience was in for the ride.

It appeared more than half of the band were battling colds and Ian asked us to help out with lyrics when we could. Honestly, he didn’t need it. Oh! Except that time when he couldn’t remember the lyrics to “Ghosts”. Whatever. He recovered and it wasn’t a big deal.

It didn’t appear the cold affected his voice at all (especially at the end of “Albatross”). Oh my, that Ian Thornley scream…(insert cheesy hearts here). He revealed his secret later in the show: Advil Cold & Sinus.

“That Song” was the third tune and I really enjoyed watching bassist, Dave McMillan. He was going for it, like it was his most favourite song in the whole world. I always find that impressive because you know he’s probably played it more times than he can count.

Sometimes with songs that do well, you can literally feel the musicians let out a collective “Oh my God, we’ve played this one to death, I’d rather poke my eyes out” sigh. That kind of attitude always puts a damper on those songs for me. But there was no indication of that at all from Dave. Loved it.

Later in the set they played “A Speedy Recovery”. It’s not my favourite song on the new album, but Ian’s second solo during that song garnered him a standing ovation on the floor. It was fantastic and since most were already standing, it was great timing for their disco-ish “You Don’t Even Know”, which was fun.

“Under The Lighthouse” is probably one of my favourite Big Wreck songs and I was excited to hear it, but not as excited as the guy standing in front of the stage when they played “Blown Wide Open”. He opened his arms in a “Hallelujah!” formation. It was cute.

I loved the encore which consisted of “Digging In” and “The Oaf”. Two fantastic songs and Ian actually jumped around during the later.

Thank you Advil Cold & Sinus and thank you Big Wreck. I feel wonderful.

…did you hear the show Dad? Isn’t he great?

Good night.


1. One Good Piece of Me
2. I Digress
3. That Song
4. It Comes as No Surprise
5. The Arborist
6. Wolves
7. A Speedy Recovery
8. You Don’t Even Know
9. Ghosts
10. Albatross
11. Under the Lighthouse
12. Tomorrow Down
13. Blown Wide Open

14. Digging In
15. The Oaf

TicketMOMster is a Rock and Jazz-loving Mom; single-handedly keeping Ticketmaster alive in Winnipeg. Follow her musical journey here:

Anne Martin


TicketMOMster is a Rock and Jazz-loving Mom; single-handedly keeping Ticketmaster alive in Winnipeg. Follow her musical journey here:

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