Top Ten Concerts: Upcoming Highlights on the Music Scene

Written by Gerry Blackwell

It’s been ten years since publisher Chris McDonell introduced a new kind of magazine to celebrate the good life in our corner of the world. To mark the occasion, we’re spotlighting the ten must-see concerts of this anniversary season. Without further ado, in order by date:


Yes with Special Guest Todd Rundgren (Budweiser Gardens, Thursday, September 14, 7:30 pm, $59.50-$127.25). Well, yes and no. The 2017 incarnation includes none of the prog-rock pioneers who formed Yes in 1968. The band has played musical chairs for decades, cycling through 19 musicians in all. But no matter. The current crew plays the same great hard rock, still packs arenas, still gets respectful notices. It’s music history on the hoof. Catch it while you can.


Brian Wilson Presents Pet Sounds (Centre in the Square, Kitchener, Monday, September 18, 8 pm, $54.50-$168.50). Your chance to see the legendarily weird Brian Wilson, reclusive front man for 1960s surf-rockers the Beachboys. This is a live performance of Pet Sounds, the seminal 1966 album that briefly vaulted the band back to Beatles stature. It includes iconic hits such as Wouldn’t It Be Nice and God Only Knows. Wilson is joined by original Beachboy Al Jardine. This won’t come around again.


Valdy (Aeolian Hall, Saturday September 23, 7/8 pm, $25/$30). A troubadour in the old tradition, Paul Valdemar Horsdal has been performing and recording since the early 1970s. He has 18 albums to his credit, two Junos, and many other distinctions. Most importantly, he’s a warm, engaging performer with a catalogue of terrific tunes. The Aeolian is the perfect venue for this folksy minstrel. (Note: He’s also at the Bayfield Town Hall, Thursday, September 21, $35.)


Bruce Cockburn, with Terra Lightfoot (London Music Hall, Friday, September 29, 7 pm, $49.50). Cockburn, like Valdy, has been around since the year dot, and is one of the most respected singer-songwriters in the country. A passionate activist, he’s the author of often political hits such as If I Had A Rocket Launcher and Lovers in a Dangerous Time (covered by Barenaked Ladies). But Cockburn is also a superb and inventive guitarist. Go, listen.


Jann Arden (Sanderson Centre, Brantford, Sunday, October 8, 8 pm, $68.00/$58.00). One of our best-loved singer-songwriters, and with good reason. Arden’s warmth, intelligence and charisma come through in everything she does. She’s more than just the performer of hits like Could I Be Your Girl and Insensitive. Arden is also an author (three books), CBC broadcaster, in-demand speaker and philanthropist. A real charmer.


The New Pornographers with Born Ruffians (London Music Hall, Wednesday, October 11, 7 pm, $27.50). Critical darlings The New Pornographers have been hitting charts and media reviewers’ best lists for two decades. Billing themselves as a collective of singer-songwriters, all of whom do other stuff, the band plays high-energy power pop. This is their only stop in the region.


Barenaked Ladies: Canada 1-five-0 (Sanderson Centre, Brantford, Thursday, October 12, 8 pm, $60/$50). Has it really been three decades since BNL came along? The Ladies, now without co-founder Steven Page and Andy Creeggan, still play hits like If I Had A Million Dollars and One Week. They’ve released 15 studio albums in all, sold more than 14 million copies, and garnered multiple Juno awards and Grammy nominations. They’re a national treasure. So why do Londoners have to drive to Brantford to see them?


Diego Figueiredo (Sanderson Centre, Brantford, Monday, October 16, 8 pm, $30). You may not know the Brazilian jazz/classical guitarist, but take it from us, Figueiredo is worth the hour drive. A prolific recording artist (more than 19 albums), winner of the prestigious Montreux Jazz Competition and a peripatetic touring musician, his style is smooth, his technique impeccable. Not to be missed. (But don’t take our word for it, check him out here on YouTube:


The Penderecki String Quartet (Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber Music Society Music Room, 57 Young St. W., Waterloo, October 21, 8pm, $40, students $25). One of the jewels in Canada’s classical music crown, the Pendereckis are celebrating 30 years of concertizing this year. Since their first date at the Music Room in 1987, they’ve recorded almost 30 albums, ranging from the great classics – their latest album is Beethoven’s great quartet in A minor – to challenging modern composers. If you enjoy chamber music, this is a signal event.


Blackie and the Rodeo Kings (Aeolian Hall, Thursday, October 26, two evening shows, $50/$55). The last time BatRK played a packed Aeolian Hall two years ago, they gave a gem of a concert and brought the house down. Colin Linden, Stephen Fearing and Tom Wilson, all successful solo artists, came together originally for a one-off project. Twenty years on, eight albums, a Juno and multiple nominations later, they’re an essential fixture on the roots music scene, a tight, talented band with amazing chemistry. Do not miss.


About the author

Gerry Blackwell

Gerry Blackwell is a London-based freelance writer.