Triumph bassist Mike Levine remembers getting the phone call. His band had just been inducted into Canada’s music hall of fame in April 2008, they were gearing up to play some summer dates when the call came through from their L.A agent that a promoter in Solvesborg, Sweden wanted them for his Sweden Rock Festival.
“Did we want to go…no,” muttered Levine. “But then we thought, it’s Sweden, what the heck, no one’s going to notice us out there. We couldn’t have been more wrong.”
So Triumph’s first reunion gig together as the original trio of Levine, Rik Emmett and Gil Moore in over 20 years would at a festival in Sweden June 7th 2008. “We knew there would be a lot of interest in the gig so we hired an H.D crew to shoot the gig but they cancelled the day before,” explained Levine. “So we had to get a bunch of guys with hand held cameras and use the video screen, so that’s why you see a bunch of cameras pointing at the ground, the video editing was a challenge.
Not so the audio portion. “Stu Young did an amazing job mixing the audio,”noted Levine. “I don’t think we’ve ever sounded that good on tape.”
“I got my two brothers back. We all got each other back.”With Dave Dunlop added to flesh out the sound as a second guitarist, Triumph appear to be in fine form. Emmett provides a powerful presence, blasting through hits like “Lay It On The Line”, “Magic Power” and “Never Surrender” while showing his guitar chops on “Blinding Light Show”.
Gil Moore is a powerhouse behind the drum kit, delivering the band’s rock element with “Rock & Roll Machine, “Rocky Mountain Way” and”Allied Forces” while Levine, resplendent in a Swedish hockey shirt anchors the bottom end. As a daytime performance, Triumph’s stage presence is bereft of the usual lighting and special effects. Yet the sheer chemistry of the trio together suggested more dates to come.
“The on-stage chemistry was great, reflected Levine.”As Rik says in the CD notes “I got my two brothers back. We all got each other back.”
But then what? Triumph played one more festival in Oklahoma City and Live Nation promoter Riley O’Connor had a major U.S and Canadian tour set for 2009. “But then the U.S economy tanked,” reported Levine. “All our American strongholds were dying. Detroit, Cleveland, Indianapolis, the US touring situation was a mess. Riley wanted us to do the Canadian dates, but it wasn’t really worth powering up for a tour if we weren’t doing the states! So we decided to hold off until the time was right.
Triumph is still waiting for that US economic turnaround. Yet Levine is confident their Swedish DVD won’t be the band’s recording epitaph. ”The rest of the band keeps saying I’m the optimistic one,” noted Levine. Even when Rik and Gil weren’t talking to each other and people would say ‘ will you guys ever get back together again. I’d be the one saying, never say never. We are geared up ready to go. Just waiting for the right opportunity”.