Wednesday night the legendary Massey Hall stage played host to two of Canada’s most revered and influential artists of the last few decades. Guelph’s Constantines, after having taken a hiatus of some years apart, have enjoyed a revival of sorts over the last year or so and that continues with this very special occasion at the corner of Victoria and Shuter. One of the hardest working bands through the previous decade, Constantines have spent more than their fair share of time on the bar/club circuit so it must have felt like a triumphant arrival to the next stage of their career. The band has many friends scattered throughout the industry and so in an effort to share this special occasion with one of them, the Cons called on Chad VanGaalen, their former touring partner, to open the show.

A minute after eight o’ clock, VanGaalen took to the stage and set himself up as one-man band. He sat down with his acoustic and had a harmonica fastened to his neck, all while playing a small kick drum that he worked with his left foot, while his right kicked a snare. Did I mention that he had a drumstick tied to the guitar headstock in order to strike a cymbal? The poor guy did have a little help with some backing vocals, flute and keys provided by local girl Julie Fader. Playing songs mostly taken from last year’s excellent release, Shrink Dust, VanGaalen enchanted the Massey crowd with his haunting vocals and sparse interpretations. Chad being Chad though, he took to time to qualify his love for Constantines in his own unique way, saying: “The Constantines are one of those bands that never sucked a dick!” The same could be said for VanGaalen!

Sticking to the setlist that has worked so well since last year’s return, Cons came out big with “Draw Us Lines”, “Nighttime Anytime (It’s Alright) and “Shine A Light.” Any Cons crowd is up for some call and response and mass sing-a-longs and this one was no different. The reaction was warm and inspired to a set that touched on all areas of the band’s catalogue, but it seemed like the musicians and the audience fell into one with the playing of debut record’s “Young Offenders” and Shine A Light’s “National Hum.”

The set danced between every album in their catalogue, including: “Insectivora”, “Shower of Stones”, “Hotline Operator” and “Soon Enough.”

It’s hard to say what the future holds for Constantines; Bry Webb has just announced another solo tour across Canada and there has yet to be talk of a new record anytime soon, but judged on the vitality of their live show in 2015…the world needs more Constantines!

- Johnny Hooper