Prism Rocks Calgary

Make no mistake. Prism is a great rock band and an underrated one.

When Peter Townshend wrote the phrase: “I hope I die before I get old” it left many of us with the impression that youthful passion and rock music were only for the young. Well it was a grand notion and a largely wrong one.

Al Harlow and company shook up the stage with a roster of songs that could hold their own against some of the best ever written. The legacy of chief songsmith Jim Vallance (aka. Rodney Higgs as the bands first drummer) was well and truly honoured this night as the 21st century version of Prism made the 30 year old music newly relevant.

Al Harlow is funny, engaging, endearing, energetic and supremely talented on guitar and lead vocals. He danced and pranced around the stage as if he were your little brother pretending to rock out in front of a mirror to his favorite tune. All the rock moves you ever would want to see are all there in one slightly disheveled and jittery package. This man is a dyed in the wool entertainer.

Deerfoot Casino, Calgary. May 4th 2013
Photography by: Charles Hope

Spaceship Superstar opened the show. As arguably their most well known hit, it flew in the face of the “save it for the encore” train of thought. Great idea. The largely 50 something crowd wasn’t going anywhere.

The charismatic Harlow led his rock n’ roll minstrels Tad Goddard bass, Marc Gladstone keyboards, Gary Grace drums, through an awesome set that made this reviewer (who enjoyed the albums from 77-80) a born again fan. The singers in the band suffered from a touch of “prairie throat” which often affects musicians travelling through this dry climate, and given the super high harmonies laced throughout these songs, they were in for a challenge. They met it well.

Songs in order of play from here:

Flyin: Four to the bar pop greatness

Virginia: A galloping hook fest. Goddard and bass in the driver’s seat

Tangiers: From the 07 album Black Sky. Middle eastern percussion and sitar. Very much a Prism tune.

See Forever Eyes: Power pop with a soaring chorus

Picking up his Fender Telecaster Deluxe, Al Harlow knocked off a few socks with some masterful drop D blues slide playing, ending by falling to the floor as if having completely drained himself. This was not the case. Announcing a song about “the good times” the band flowed into

Young and Restless: Harlow mugging for the audience, lost in his own juke box world.

Nickels and Dimes: Harlow telling of how he tried to pitch this song to Rod Stewart on a mandolin. In a car

Take me away: Al wished Ron Tabak their former (now deceased) singer was there to deliver this.

A Night To Remember: Classic power ballad

Mirror Man: Could have been a Deep Purple number

At this point Gary Grace rolled into a drum solo of great power and control, demonstrating why he was named Canada’s best drummer of 2010. That he was suffering from a bout of food poisoning and still managed to kill it says much for his talent.

Take Me to the Kaptain: A guitar hook with barbs on. More cowbell!

Harlow allowed the front of stage disciples to strum his Les Paul as he soloed and danced his way into

Armageddon: One of the best Elvis tributes ever written. Synth heaven, Gladstone style

Some may argue that the death of Ron Tabak was the death of Prism. I would argue that they have never seen Al Harlow in action. He remembers Tabak with great affection and does his memory full justice. This is one of the best Canadian bands there ever was. See this band. You cannot fail to be entertained.

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