DEL CRARY Park JULY 23 2017
By Keith Sharp
The long line of fans winding their way from the merchandise tent out into the park’s infield . waited patiently for an opportunity to touch base with The Box original vocalist Jean-Marc Pisapia and his Mark 11 version of the band which topped the Canadian charts in 1987 with their hit song “Closer Together”
Posing for selfies, thrusting forward vinyl record covers, CD booklets posters and tee shirts for autographs, it was clear that these are genuine fans, fans that may be hadn’t seen the band play in like 25 years, yet are obviously thrilled to hear memories of their youth, replayed once again.
Yet this was no geriatric audience and The Box is not a geriatric band. Many of the 9,000 plus fans who packed Peterborough’s Del Crary were young adults and were as much impressed with the band’s instrumental prowess as they were of the setlist, which not only reworked golden nuggets into contemporary arrangements but also, early in the set, performed a progressive-rock trio of tracks that would have made Genesis proud.
Pisapia, resplendent in his sea captain’s outfit, set the tone for the night, when after The Box opened with “Must I Always Remember” from their debut 1984 self-titled release and “Carry On” from their 1990 `The Pleasure And Pain’ record, he asked the crowd for their their patience while the band performed a mini Prog-Rock suite (“That’s The World”, “So Beautiful” and “Hell On Earth” from their 2005 `Black Dog’ record) which displayed the instrumental chops of guitarist Francois Bruneau, keyboardist Guillame Jodoin, bassist Dan Volj, drummer Martin Lapierre and back-up vocalist Isabelle Lemay who provided, stunning atmospheric vocals to “Hell On Earth”.
[styled_box title=”The Box – Peterborough, Ont. July 23.’16” color=”black”]
Such was the intensity of the tracks, that Pisapia felt compelled to address the crowd by saying “We also do kid’s shows”.
Then as Pisapia promised, the audience’s attentiveness was rewarded with a string of more familiar tracks culled from their four early albums. Yet even these songs, while remaining faithful to their earlier spirit, have undergone a cosmetic up-date with Bruneau’s inventive guitar leads and Jodoin’s progressive keyboard fills adding a fresh feel to nuggets like “Temptation” and “Crying Out Loud For Love”. In response to a long-term fan, who had made a specific request for “Inside My Heart” for his “Cinammon Girl”, the band duly acknowledged the dedication by perfoming a song which should be a future set staple.
And then it was into the home stretch, with The Box bring the audience to its feet with “Ordinary People”, the moody “L’affaire Dumoutier (Say To Me) before closing the set with their infectious cover of Men Without Hats’ “Safety Dance” (Pisapia was a former band member) and the ubiquitous “Closer Together”.
The band’s only problem in returning for a two-song encore is that their choice of “Star Dust Hotel” (from their “John The Mark release) and “Checkmate” (from their self-titled debut) are solid enough songs yet lack the crowd-participation qualities of a Safety Dance or a Closer Together. A finale cover song would certainly correct this minor set flaw.
Ultimately though, those 60 people who stood patiently in line in almost pitch darkness for one hour after the show to meet the band are testament to the fact that The Box are capable of being more than just an Eighties classic pop band. They are a legitimate, crowd-pleasing concert festival attraction.
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