Classic Rockfest delights fans, pays tribute to Kenny Shields

Honeymoon Suite guitarist, Derry Grehan, on stage at Shaw Park. /PHOTO: Doug Kretchmer

Review: Winnipeg Classic Rockfest @ Shaw Park

I’m a bit young for Winnipeg Classic Rockfest; I’m a Grunge kid. But all the bands that played tonight are bands I’ve always wanted to see live, even though I knew almost nothing about them.

When Winnipeg Classic Rockfest announced their line up, I was like, “YES! I’ll see them all in one night!” I enthusiastically bought my ticket.

And then Kenny Shields died.

No! How many opportunities did I get to see Streetheart? Lots…and now I’ve missed that opportunity.

The kicker is I know better; I know musicians don’t last forever. I’m the one spending billions of dollars to see every “legend” that comes to this city. But what about our own legends?

I’ll never see Kenny Shields perform live. I dropped the ball and I’m totally kicking myself for it.

Winnipeg Classic Rockfest knows something I don’t: there’s still a huge classic rock following in Winnipeg. As a matter of fact, at 5 p.m., that following snaked its way around the building and comfortably filled the ball park.

I had no issues finding a seat, but opted to kick off my shoes and sit on the cool grass near the ball diamond instead.

The most appropriate host for this event, Howard Mandshein, took the stage and intro’d The Pumps/Orphan. “Bust the TV” started their set and I really liked it; “Rockstar” was great too. The sound in general was good and I glanced around to the drink lines which looked fine.

The Pumps / Orphan on stage at Winnipeg Classic Rockfest. /PHOTO: Doug Kretchmer

“Coffee With The Queen” and “Out Of Control” were next and I was really enjoying the band. They had that rockin’ non-polished feel to them and I like that.

Orphan’s “Lonely At Night” was next, followed by “Miracle” at which point I almost shouted “OMG, I KNOW THIS ONE!”

“Success” and a great guitar solo ended their set and there was no encore, even though it was hinted that they’d like to play one. I’m assuming time constraints prohibited any acts from performing encores, with the exception of Streetheart.

Howard Mandshein was emcee for the “greatest night EVER!” /PHOTO: Doug Kretchmer

At this point I was getting hungry, so I stood in line for perogies and water, but they weren’t selling drinks of any kind at Mr. Perogie. I paid for my perogies and wandered around looking for water.

A woman at the drink ticket line told me only Goldie’s Grill was selling water. It was also the only food place accepting credit cards, so the line was crazy long on both sides.

I ate all my perogies and missed most of Harlequin’s set while standing in line to get a bottle of water. Boo!

Once I got to the front, I was going to order two bottles so I wouldn’t have to stand in that line again, but they had to take the cap off the bottles. Two-fisting open bottles of water is not conducive to taking pictures and writing notes while wandering around, so I just took the one bottle. Needless to say, I was not impressed.

Classic rock band Harlequin wowed the crowd at Shaw Park. /PHOTO: Doug Kretchmer

However, the show must go on, (even while the reviewer can’t see the stage because they’re standing in a never ending line), so I wrote these notes:

“I Did It For Love” – I KNOW THIS ONE!

Harlequin, like all the bands at Classic Rockfest, were happy to be performing for such an enthusiastic crowd. /PHOTO: Doug Kretchmer

Song I don’t know…“ Love On The Rocks”?

“You Are The Light” – for Howard Mandshein – I KNOW THIS ONE TOO!

“Survive” – GET OUT! I KNOW THIS ONE TOO! Huh! I know a lot more Harlequin than I thought I did…

Song I don’t know…

Another song I don’t know…“Sweet Things In Life”?

“Thinking Of You”, “Superstitious Feeling” and “Innocence” I KNOW ALL THREE OF THEM! YAAAAY!

At this point I had my water and made my way back to the stage. I texted my Husband on the way there to ask him a question about Harlequin, but it turned out I was confusing them with Shake Naked. D’oh! Hahaha! I really have no history with these bands.

“With A Little Help From My Friends” ended their set and it was dedicated to Kenny. It was a good cover and I enjoyed it.

Howard came on stage after Harlequin’s set and read a letter Kenny had written to him. Then Howard encouraged us to have fun, because that’s what Kenny would have wanted.

I knew a lot more Honeymoon Suite than I thought I did too. “Stay In The Light” was good, but I really liked “Wave Babies” and “Feel It Again”. I left the stage crowd and walked around the ball park. The sound was good from every angle.

It was hard to weave back into the crowd again during “What Does It Take” because everyone was dancing and singing and holding their beers high in the sky.

It was really cool to be in that crowd. Everyone was having such a good time and the bands seemed legitimately pleased and a bit overwhelmed that they were on that stage playing for all these enthusiastic people.

Honeymoon Suite on stage at Winnipeg’s Classic Rockfest. /PHOTO: Doug Kretchmer

“New Girl Now” ended Honeymoon Suite’s set and I flashed back to mullets and Much Music (or was it Video Hits with Samantha Taylor?); I remembered their video.

At around 9:30 p.m., I wandered around the concourse again. I interviewed a few people in the drink lines and they all said the lines weren’t too bad and the drink ticket lines were a breeze. I noticed a “ran out of wine” sign and a “ran out of perogies” sign at Mr. Perogie. Other than that, the festival seemed to be running quite smoothly.

Howard came back on stage one last time and marvelled that this was the best night EVER and a quintessential night in August, which made me smile, because it’s such a “Howard” thing to say.

Streetheart guitarist Paul Dean (now of Loverboy) and Mike Reno sang a few Loverboy tunes and the Streetheart hit “What Kind of Love is This” at Classic Rockfest. /PHOTO: Doug Kretchmer

Then he asked the crowd to give the remaining members of Streetheart all their love as they took the stage. I have no connection to this band, but even I was sad when they walked on stage without a singer. Guitarist, Jeff Neill introduced Harlequin’s Paul McNair, who did a solid job on “Here Comes The Night” and “Tin Soldier”.

I scanned the audience, only able to guess what they were feeling about someone else singing Kenny’s songs. To my surprise, most people looked happy. It truly felt like a celebration.

Jeff introduced Lisa Windsor (Kenny was her mentor) and she sang “Can You Feel It” and then “Look In Your Eyes” with Paul. At the end of that tune, Lisa mentioned they were having a celebration of Kenny’s life tomorrow (30th – TODAY!) at 8 p.m. at Club Regent. Everyone is welcome.

Lisa Windsor (r) joins Paul McNair for “Tin Soldier”. /PHOTO: Doug Kretchmer

At this point Paul left the stage while members of Honeymoon Suite and Donny Parenteau took the stage. I think it was Donny, no one around me knew who he was either, but he certainly had a commanding voice during “Snow White”.

Bassist, Ken “Spider” Sinnaeve came out, along with singer, Chris Burke-Gaffney and they all played “One More Time”. After that tune, Chris did a mic drop, which made me laugh because it was so ridiculous. But the crowd loved the song and he definitely pumped many of them up.

Donny Parenteau joined Lisa Windsor and Streetheart for “Snow White”. /PHOTO: Doug Kretchmer

Jeff thanked us for our support as well as Sam Katz and then drummer, Matthew Frenette and Paul came back on stage to perform “Hollywood”.

Guitarist, Paul Dean gave Jeff a break and Paul McNair screamed his way through “Action”, which was really impressive.

Harlequin singer, George Belanger took the stage to sing my favourite song (cover) by Streetheart, “Under My Thumb”. I can listen to that song on repeat for days. Unfortunately, I didn’t think it was that great and would have preferred to listen to Paul sing it.

Original Streetheart rhythm section, Matt Frenette on drums and Kenny ‘Spider’ Sinnaeve on bass were joined by Harlequin’s George Belanger for “Under My Thumb”. /PHOTO: Doug Kretchmer

Loverboy’s Mike Reno was the last singer to take the stage and he sang “The Kid Is Hot Tonite” as well as “Working For The Weekend”.

Everyone came back on stage for the encore song, “What Kind Of Love Is This”.

Classic Rockfest wrapped up with everyone on stage performing, “What Kind of Love is This” /PHOTO: Doug Kretchmer

I had no issues leaving the venue and getting to my car was fine. My only issue was dehydration due to the lack of water. Other than that, this festival was well run and I really enjoyed it.

I’m so glad I finally got to see these bands and I’m looking forward to the Winnipeg Classic Rockfest line up next year. I’ve always wanted to see Haywire. Heheh…

Good night!

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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