As we wind down to the last days of summer, it’s important that we reflect on the great live music that rolled through Toronto over the past few months. As we all know, “The Six” has become a sort of “Hollywood North” in its own right and each year the line-up of concerts to choose from gets bigger, better and more memorable than the last.
From reunion tours, to surprise appearances, and even gut wrenching goodbyes, the spring and summer of 2016 was filled with performances that took spectators on an unforgettable, emotional journey. Here are the top five concerts you probably shouldn’t have missed in Toronto this summer:
Pearl Jam Tour 2016 – Pearl Jam
Eddy Vedder and the gang swept through Toronto with two kick-ass shows in May, leaving everyone in a state of awe after their performances were finished. The band even brought out famed Canadian guitarist, Donna Grantis for both shows which was very timely considering Prince had been in the news for weeks due to his unfortunate passing.
In the first show, Pearl Jam played their album Binaural in its entirety and finished the show off with two mind-blasting encores that included covers of John Lennon’s Imagine, Pink Floyd’s Comfortably Numb. The Who’s The Real Me, and Neil Young’s Rockin’ In The Free World.
In their second show, Pearl Jam played everything from Corduroy, Brain of J, Even Flow, and even Daughter for the first half. The second half of the show was a real treat though because the band played two encores that were comprised of songs like Oceans, Breath, Last Kiss, Better Man, Crazy Mary and even…. Yellow Leadbetter. Now any hardcore Pearl Jam fan knows, that it is very rare to see the band play songs like Crazy Mary and Yellow Ledbetter which made this a truly special night.
THE FORMATION WORLD TOUR – Beyoncé
Queen B stopped in Toronto for her massive Formation World Tour back in May and it was definitely one for the history books. Even if you’re not a huge Beyoncé fan, you can’t deny that the woman has some serious ‘chops’ when it comes to putting on a memorable show. She’s is undeniably one of the best performers of our era.
Beyoncé started off her sold out show with her new single Formation and followed it up with songs like Kitty Kat in acapella and Run The World (Girls). As the night went on, she went in to tracks like Baby Boy; Me, Myself and I; and even her classic head banger Diva. To wrap up the night she threw in hits like Crazy In Love, Freedom and the Destiny’s Child classic Survivor which of course made the crowd go absolutely insane.
Summer Sixteen – Drake, Future and Friends
During Toronto’s end of July long weekend, Drake made his infamous return to “The Six” as part of his Summer Sixteen Tour with two sold out shows at the Air Canada Centre for his Annual OVO Fest.
OVO Fest stretched over three venues this year — starting with headliners Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa at the Molson Canadian Amphitheatre Friday night, Machel Montano at Echo Beach Saturday night (co-headliner Beenie Man was a no show after contracting the Zika virus and Dengue Fever), and finishing up with Drizzy and Future on Sunday and Monday nights at the Air Canada Centre.
The first night of Drake’s Air Canada Centre Performance started off with guest appearances by local rappers like Dvsn (pronounced Division) and Roy Woods. However, the biggest cameo of the night came from Drake’s rumoured love interest Rihanna. The two heated things up as they were bumping and grinding across the stage while Rihanna sang hits like Needed Me, Bitch Better Have My Money, Work and even Too Good.
On the second show, featured cameos by acts like French Montana, Future, Rihanna, and even Kanye West. In total the show consisted of a 46 song set list that nearly blew the roof off the Air Canada Centre. It was definitely one of the craziest shows of the summer!
Man Machine Poem Tour – The Tragically Hip
It seems as though The Tragically Hip was (and maybe still is) the band everyone was talking about across Canada this summer. Back in May, the band released a statement to their fans letting them know that front man Gord Downie was suffering from terminal brain cancer and that they would be embarking on their best and potentially last tour as a band. The Man Machine Poem Tour.
As part of this tour, the band played three incredible shows in Toronto and left everything out on the stage, much like they did for all of their shows. However, aside from these three concerts in Toronto, the most important show of the entire tour and possibly the year, was the last one the band played in their home-town of Kingston, Ontario.
Yes we know… This isn’t a show in Toronto, but it’s still very important because it was the second largest moment in television broadcasting history. One quarter of Canada’s population watched The Hip give everything they had and more at this concert and it was a rollercoaster of emotion, right from the get-go.
The part that still stands out is when the image above was taken… for that short moment each and every Canadian felt exactly what Gord Downie was going through and it was a true tear jerker. This concert absolutely solidified The Tragically Hip as Canada’s band and everyone who watched it will never forget where they were that night.
Make America Great Again Tour – Prophets of Rage
Prophets of Rage consists of Chuck D (Public Enemy), B-Real (Cypress Hill), and three quarters of Rage Against The Machine. The band stopped in Toronto for one truly memorable show as part of their Make America Great Again tour.
During this show, fans were lucky enough to hear all the major classics from Rage Against The Machine, including: Guerrilla Radio, Bombtrack, Testify, Bulls on Parade and even Killing in the Name. Additionally, fans also had the pleasure of hearing their favourite Public Enemy and Cypress Hill songs, courtesy of B-Real and Chuck D.
The most surprising moment of the entire show though, was when the band invited a special guest to the stage who ended up being none other than rock legend Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters, Nirvana). If the crowd wasn’t already head-banging their music loving hearts out, they surely erupted when Grohl joined the band to play MC5’s Kick Out the Jams. It was one of the most electrifying shows of the summer.
And there you have it… Five of the best live shows Toronto had the pleasure of seeing in the summer of 2016. If you had a chance to see even just one of these shows, be sure to cherish that memory because these experiences don’t come around very often.
Header Photo Credit: The Toronto Star.