Photographs by Dawn Hamilton.
The Watchmen played a spirited show to a packed Danforth Music Hall last week. The respected Canadian rockers staged a rare concert in Toronto, one of five shows announced for 2016. With no new music to sell, these shows are purely for pleasure. Watchmen devotees weather long droughts between concerts, but know it’s worth the wait.
The evening started off with a set by local band East of Avenue. The young group has had some success with their song Paper Planes getting radio play – and into a Walmart commercial. They played a solid set that ended with their latest single, Army of One.
When The Watchmen came to the stage the welcome was warm and electric, causing singer, Daniel Greaves to look out at the room and say “holy moly” before launching into into Say Something and then Boneyard Tree. Though at their height, the band toured extensively, this was their first ever appearance at the Music Hall. Greaves’ distinctive, echoey voice filled the expansive room as the band hopped back and forth through their songbook. The more electronic-influenced tunes Slow Motion and Holiday ramped up the energy another notch.
Fans have come to expect that Greaves will, at some point in the show, take the stage and sing a song acapella. They were not disappointed; Greaves offered his rendition of Graham Parker’s Three Martini Lunch. The band also treated the audience to a few songs they rarely do live and a few covers, including a snippet of One Direction’s Story of My Life. Other Watchmen hits followed – Incarnate, All Uncovered and Absolutely Anytime among them.
The encore held more gems with acoustic versions of Trampoline and Any Day Now as well as a full-on version of Stereo. The latter felt like a big finale, but the band played one more tune to the appreciative audience – a stripped down version of Johnny Cash’s The Highwayman. The crowd was buzzing as the left they hall, clearly happy to see The Watchmen, absolutely any time.