Written by Alex Stojanovic
@ Phoenix Concert Theatre
Toronto, ON, Canada
November 30, 2017
Presented by Q107 and Budweiser
Around 1996/1997, Dad took me to see Kim at Mel Lastman Square, which was my very first concert. I was 4 or 5 then. It changed my life forever and I've been lucky enough to see Kim about four more times since then. On November 30th, Kim and his band took over the Phoenix Concert Theatre for a special show where they performed solo material as well as a great amount of Max Webster tunes. Each time I've seen Kim, he always played a select number of Max songs, but I've never seen him play a big bunch of those songs. Since the last time I saw Kim's band in 2015, he had a couple of member changes. Currently playing in the band is new drummer Dave Langguth, new keyboardist Sam Pomanti, who is the son of Kim's former keyboardist Lou Pomanti who played with Kim in the mid-90s, and of course his longtime band mate of 34 years: Peter Fredette on bass.
A large group of Toronto Tontos filled the Phoenix to capacity to witness this one-night-only show. Following a brief introduction by Q107 DJ John Scholes, which included the exciting news that new music from Kim is coming in February, the band walked on stage and began the party (pun intended) with "Lager & Ale". What is astounding is that after 4 decades of performing, Kim is still singing and performing every song in the original key, and Peter is still able to hit all the high notes he sang. The night included two sets. In the first set, there was a pattern with the songs. With eight songs in the first set, it was two solo songs, followed by two Max songs, then it would repeat. Other solo songs in the first set were "Rockland Wonderland", "That's A Man" and "Easy To Tame", while the Max favourites we were treated to included "High Class In Borrowed Shoes", "Paradise Skies", as well as some nice surprises like "Diamonds, Diamonds" and "Drive & Desire". Max Webster never played the latter song live and it was a song I've been wanting to hear Kim play at solo shows, so thank you for that Kim. A rather interesting moment is when Kim told us that Sam Pomanti speaks fluent Japanese, despite being Italian, and he introduced "Paradise Skies" in Japanese. This would conclude the first set and it was time for a brief intermission.
Starting off the second set was a solo song Kim hasn't played in decades, which was "Diary For Rock 'n' Roll Men". To keep things even more entertaining, Kim would often tell funny stories about the recording sessions, songs and auditions from back in the day. He even shared a story of when Peter went to audition for Shania Twain's band, which was a set up for "All We Are". In addition, we got to hear some more surprising Max tunes, which were "Waterline", "Check" and a song that nobody was expecting, which was "On The Road". For live situations, many songs would have extended sections, which Kim has been doing for years and years. To close out the second set, we got to hear "I Am A Wild Party", "Patio Lanterns", "All We Are" and it ended with "Rock 'n' Roll Duty". The encore consisted of two songs to end the night. It began with a Max tune, which was "The Party" and the solo tune that ended the night can only be one song: "Go For Soda". No better way to end a Kim Mitchell show than like that.
Even though I wasn't even alive yet when Max Webster was active, I can say that I grew up with their music because my dad always played me the records he had, along with all of Kim's solo albums throughout the 90s, into the 2000s, and right up to the present day. It meant a lot to me back then, and it still does because it's what got me into music. "High Class In Borrowed Shoes" and "The Party" were the very first two songs I can recollect hearing and embracing really quickly when I was only 3. For anyone that might not be familiar with what happened to Kim early last year, he suffered a heart attack, but has since fully recovered. He could've been taken by the curse of 2016. That's something we don't want to think about, but after almost two years after that scary moment, Kim's back on stage and it seems like it never even happened. We honestly don't want to imagine a world without Kim Mitchell, right? It was a great night of great music, heads were bobbing, people were dancing and singing along all night! It's always a special occasion to see the man that was my introduction to music at such an early age. For me, this closes out the 2017 concert season. It's been an awesome year of shows and I'm looking forward to what's in store for the 2018 concert season.