The Origin of the Idea
I love going to concerts and I love concert halls.
My first live show was the Sensational Alex Harvey Band at the Sheffield City Hall, which is still one of my favourite venues today. As a teenager, a gig at the hall was the focus and highlight of adolescence.
As I left home for University and then went on to live and travel various parts of the world, my thirst for a gig has never diminished, and my appreciation for the special part the venue plays has grown.
The best nights are not necessarily the ones that involve the biggest band or the stand out performance. The best nights are also the ones that leave an intangible impression, where something moved you, where you had a connection with somebody or something, on or off stage.
My first visit to Massey Hall was to see Paul Weller in 2003. It was a bitterly cold winter's night, there was a snowstorm outside, the support band did not make it through the weather, and I had the impression that Weller himself did not have time for an adequate sound check and wanted to escape Toronto as quickly as possible. But the ‘old barn’ made it special. I was instantly hooked.
My grandfather, Redgy Binks, emigrated to Toronto in 1915 before returning to Europe to fight in the first World War. The Toronto places where he lived are all gone and his presence in the city is, as far as I have been able to tell, anonymous.
In 2005, I attended a Classic Albums performance of Pink Floyd’s The Wall. Passing time in the Centuries bar, looking at memorabilia and the photo-laden walls of previous artists, I noticed the old bill posters from the last century. It was then that the thought occurred to me that while the places my grandfather had lived were no longer part of Toronto, he would almost certainly, at some point, have visited Massey Hall. I could feel it. Reading the posters I tried to imagine which show he might have attended. I wondered who he might have been with, where he sat, how did the place look 100 years ago. I wanted his story.
Sadly it is no longer possible to capture Redgy’s story, so instead I set out to gather other peoples stories of “That Night at Massey Hall”.