On Saturday, June 29th, the Rolling Stones will take the stage before an estimated crowd of some 60,000 fans at the Burls Creek Event Centre, Oro-Medonte Ontario to perform their only Canadian date of their 17-concert No Filter tour. Twenty-Four hours earlier, The Blushing Brides, a tribute to the Stones will hit the stage about 80 kilometres to the south, to perform before an intimate gathering of some 500 fans at Toronto’s Revival Event Centre.
Ask Blushing Brides’ front man Maurice Raymond who is getting the best Stones’ value for their buck and he will unashamedly boast that his group delivers the best live experience.
“The price of buying a Stones’ ticket is complete insanity,” mused Raymond. “It’s like you have to take a second mortgage on your house to catch the show. If you want to see a band that can still deliver the best Stones’ experience, come and see the Brides! For $40 bucks you can enjoy Stones’ music delivered in an intimate atmosphere.”
Expanding on his “we are the best value theory”, Raymond explained, “You go and see the Stones these days and there’s 75-year old Mick, just recovered from his heart operation, he looks like a chicken that’s just been Tasered. There’s no elegance, about their performance, it’s all physicality. Like 60,000 people will be there but only about 5,000 people located front and centre will even have a sense of what is going on, now it’s more of a circus than a musical event. If they’d go back to playing the blues in a small, intimate venue, it would be worth spending a couple of hundred bucks to see them. But they can’t do that because of the financial umbrella they operate under.”
Formed originally in 1979, with Raymond and guitarist Paul Martin being the mainstays, The Blushing Brides originally covered a number of different bands but it was their Stones’ material which drew the most attention. “We played a date in Boston and the headline in the Boston Globe said “Stones’ Clones Invade New England”, Raymond explained. “So suddenly all these agents and concert promoters were phoning us asking to book that Stones’ band.”
The Blushing Brides were only too happy to take these gigs during the mid-Eighties, “It was the golden age for clubs, but then grunge came along and things changed drastically,” Raymond explained. “Up until that time (early to mid-Nineties), we were making decent money but then we were up against these grunge bands who were happy to play for $300 bucks and a case of beer.”
Even worse was to follow. The demise of the record industry meant that when nostalgia bands re-emerged, without the benefit of record sales, highly inflated ticket prices put many of these bands out of the price range of average punters and encouraged the growth of tribute/clone bands who mimicked the originals but for a much cheaper ticket.
“Suddenly you had a cesspool of incredibly shitty bands who gave the whole business a bad name,” fumed Raymond. “It’s so difficult for us when there are all these Stones’ knock-off bands with names like ‘Hot Rocks’, `Sticky Fingers’ and ‘Voodoo Lounge’. Give me a break, it’s like all of these bad musicians just pick up an album jacket and go, right, let’s do this one.”
Supported by lead guitarist James Green, guitarist Desmond Leahy, bassist Matt Greenberg and drummer Alexander Tukatsch, Blushing Brides have been touring for 40 years now and are approaching 5,000 shows.
“I don’t mind saying that we are the best live band in Canada that plays other people’s music,” Raymond concluded. “We play with emotion, passion, energy and flair and that’s what our show is about every night.”
Blushing Brides are set to play on Friday, June 28th at The Revival Events Centre (783 College St, Toronto), Presented by Ronald McDonald House, (which receives a percentage of all profits) tickets are $35 advance – via ticketscene.ca, $40 at the door with limited VIP $95 tickets which provide guaranteed balcony seating, private bar service, complimentary food and one free drink plus a pre-concert meet and greet with the band.