The Tea Party + The Proud Sons @ MTelus – 12th April 2019

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The Tea Party on stage at MTelus

If there is one band that can empathize with Greta Van Fleet, it’s The Tea Party. Zeppelin and the Doors were always tagged when speaking of their style.

My good buddy, crushed he missed the show, was telling me about a time he was in Quebec City, close to 30 years ago, having a pint before a Tea Party show at La Fourmi Atomik.  Guess who sits right next to him…but Jeff Martin and his entourage.  He mentions to Jeff’s girlfriend at the time, how he looks and sounds like Jim Morrison of the Doors.  She stopped him dead in his tracks…that is a no-fly zone…you don’t mention the D-word.  It was a sensitive topic at the time.

The Tea Party, however, never let labels influence their sound.  They pushed through with their vision and made it their own.

They have secured their crown in Canadian History as one of the great ones.

Wikipedia says Jeff is from Windsor, but the truth is, there is a deeper connection to Montreal than it might appear.  Jeff was actually from LaSalle Ontario, a town not unlike our own suburb here in Montreal, Quebec.

This was told to me by my guest and brother from another mother, who also told me that at his wedding, which I was MC and DJ, was Jeff’s best friend from school.

Yes… Jeff has seemed to touch so many lives of those around me and at my age, was so much a part of my young adulthood. 

Jeff…if you ever want to chill and have an intellectual talk about music, I have a special signed bottle of Andrew Murray wine, the maker of “This is E11even Wines” (an obvious homage to Spinal Tap) to share.      

I remember getting Splendor Solis in 1993 when they were still relatively unknown.  The CD (First pressing) sleeve has a mail-in portion for a free ticket to their next show.  Then…the rocket took off.  I received my ticket for the then Metropolis.  

We have come full circle, MTelus is the chosen venue to host their return to Montreal.

I wasn’t going to miss this one!

Proud Sons

I was pleasantly surprised to see a packed MTelus, as I entered the venue at the beginning of the set of The Proud Sons

The ticket resellers (to use a more politically correct term) seemed to indicate a quiet night for their sales, but once inside…it was clear that Montreal was coming in droves and already secured their tickets for what was to be one epic night!

The Proud Sons (Winnipeg) started their musical career with a visit to the legendary Sun Studio to record their demo EP.  Just imagine being within the same walls as Elvis and Johnny Cash…and let that soak in for a few minutes.  

The band absorbed in all that nostalgia and history and let it imprint their sound with a fresh twist on rock-n-roll past.  

Each of these sons can sing, and they often alternated who was singing, even during the same song.  The four-part harmonies really make them stand out and it was clear the crowd was as impressed as I was. 

Their cover of “Don’t Let Me Down” was a highlight, but each of the other songs were strong out of the gate.  

They opened up about the origin of the band.  Most of them have lost their dad’s too soon, and their drummer’s dad said something to his son that touched them all:  “Make me proud, son.”

And that…they did.  A solid set by a band that reminded me of a Nashville infused rock-n-roll.  

The Tea Party

Jason Rockman (CHOM, Slaves on Dope) came out to introduce the band.  It was a rousing introduction that I believe should be more of a thing!  

We all know that feeling when the lights turn down…and the show is about to start…but having it introduced seemed to make it all the more special.  

They started us off with “Writing’s on the Wall” which has that perfect intro vibe.  From the first notes…we just knew it was going to be an amazing night.

Three musicians (four if you count Jeff’s voice) filled MTelus with such a rich sound, I have to admit I was lost in the music and the thought of writing a review was all but forgotten. 

Jeff Burrows, whose hair is as epic as his drumming, was the backbone of the sound. Wow…that drum kit was mesmerizing, but more than that, it had that arena rock sound…full and heavy.

Stuart Chatwood was equally impressive filling in the sound with his bass, and keys to bring the fullness to the sound.

Of course, it was the strength of Jeff Martin’s voice that carried the songs to that legendary status.

From one song to the next, I saw scenes of my past flash through my mind.  Memories cemented in time with Tea Party songs.  

“Save Me” had an homage to “Kashmir” (Led Zeppelin), complete with violin bow, as the audience sang along to the chorus.  How could you not?

The next song, “Heaven Coming Down” morphed into “With or Without You” from U2 which was masterfully done.     

The set ended with “Temptation” which Jeff referred to what his early years in the band was filled with.  How times have changed.

The River

The first encore was “The River” which morphed into “Sober” by Tool.   

The second encore featured “Winter Solstice” which had a section of Tragically Hip’s “Bobcaygeon” featured.  This was the one song I was looking forward to, the whole night, but adding the Tragically Hip part to it just brought the nostalgia up to 11.  In that one moment…I was proud of Canadian music in a way that I never felt before, because of a mashup of two epic Canadian bands. 

Winter Solstice

We ended with Sister Awake which went into “Paint It Black” from the Stones and “Heroes” from Bowie. Talk about an epic ending. 

As the evening ended, I snapped out of my daze…I had a show to review…but I was caught up in the music.

Maybe that’s the best way to describe the evening.  You had to experience this for yourself.  

Jeff, Jeff, and Stuart made me feel young again, and from 9 PM to 11:11 PM…I steeped the sounds of The Tea Party, letting those songs resurrect memories and feelings that made me who I am today.  

When nostalgia and musicianship collide…you get The Tea Party, the band that has been forever tattooed on Canada’s arm of Rock Legends.


Review: Randal Wark is a Professional Speaker and MasterMind Facilitator with a passion for live music.  You can follow him on InstagramTwitter and YouTube.

Photos – Eric Brisson

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