When concert promoter Mark Higgins decided to relocate his Big Music Fest from Belleville to Kitchener’s McLennan Park July 11-13, he could have only dreamed of the impact that move would trigger. But his instinct paid dividends when over 25,000 fans packed the park Saturday and Sunday to catch the likes of Aerosmith, Bryan Adams, Slash and the Myles Kennedy Conspiracy along with classic rockers like Styx and Collective Soul as well as homebrewed talent like Kim Mitchell, Big Wreck and Moist.
The weather co-operated, the crowd was well behaved and Big Fest delivered two great days and nights of super star talent (first night featured local contest winners). Aerosmith delivered a 16-song power set Sunday with two classic encore numbers (“Sweet Emotion” and “Dream On”), Bryan Adams performed like he was 18 again Saturday powering through a two-hour 20-song set which concluded with no less than four encores while Former Guns N’ Roses guitar slinger Slash, supported by lead vocalist Myles Kennedy (and featuring former Age Of Electric frontman Todd Kerns on bass) produced a Guns N Roses spiked set that put former singer Axel Rose to shame.
Canadian talent was also evident in the shape of Styx keyboardist-vocalist Lawrence Gowan who led the Chicago rockers through a brief 45-minute hit packed set (which featured his “Criminal Mind” hit), at one point, injecting a little local humour by noting “This has got to be the largest crowd in the history of Lulu’s” (in reference to the former local nightspot).
New bands, Vancouver’s Pidgeon Point and Orillia’s Bleeker Ridge enjoyed the the capacity crowd’s attention, the reunited Moist debuted new tracks off of their new Mechanical CD and Big Wreck also presented tracks off of their new release. Also making their mark was Atlanta’s Collective Soul who fired up the crowd with a fiery set which featured standards like “The World I Know” and “Shine”.
Yet a special highlight was the always reliable Kim Mitchell, who although only give 45-minutes put his slot to good use combining Max Webster hits like “High Class In Borrowed Shoes” and “I Am A Wild Party” with solo classics like “Rock N Roll Duty”. “All We Are” and the ubiquitous “Patio Lanterns” The set highlight though was his run-through of Max Webster’s “Battlescar” which featured an appearance from Myles Kennedy’s bassist and former Age Of Electric star Todd Kerns.
(Photos by Ted Van Boort)