30 Years Ago Today Tom Cochrane Played The Orpheum

30 years ago today: Tom Cochrane plays the Orpheum Theatre six weeks after releasing “Life Is a Highway”

30 years ago today–on November 4, 1991–Tom Cochrane played the Orpheum Theatre on his Mad Mad World Tour.

Six weeks earlier he’d released a video/single called “Life Is a Highway” that would become a stone cold Canuck-rock classic, and make everybody forget about Bryan Adams’ “Summer of ’69” for a while.

Maybe you were there?

To jog your memory, here’s my review, which was published in the November 7, 1991 issue of the Georgia Straight.

Tom Cochrane wasn’t kidding when he told me a couple of weeks back that his new rhythm section worked like a high-performance engine. The former Streetheart team of drummer Matt Frenette and bassist Spider Sinneave was scary last Monday night (November 4), with Frenette being especially monstrous. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a rock concert so thoroughly dominated by a drummer—and with such satisfying results.

Maybe Frenette was trying especially hard to impress former Canuck Stan “Steamer” Smyl, to whom Cochrane dedicated the hockey-oriented tune “Big League”. That song joined such Red Rider standards as “White Hot”, “Avenue A”, and “Can’t Turn Back”, the latter a sped-up version that included a jazzy solo by young guitarist Sil Simone that segued into a Lynyrd Skynyrd-style riff-o-rama.

Looking a bit like a dark-haired Colin James, Simone did an admirable job of filling the sizeable shoes left by former Red Rider guitarist Kenny Greer. He got a little help in that respect from rhythm guitarist/backup vocalist Peter Fredette, whom Orpheum-goers may have recognized from his previous stints there with Kim Mitchell. Fredette’s vocals were not the perfect foil for Cochrane’s—as they are for Mitchell’s—but it didn’t really hurt any, and he seemed to be enjoying himself.

“You guys are crazy!” proclaimed Cochrane, finally giving in to the calls for an encore and returning for the expected hit, “Boy Inside the Man”. He went a little whacko himself on that one, for some reason tossing in a few lines from the Beatles’ “Dear Prudence”. But the crowd that had rushed the stage for the previous song, “Life Is a Highway”, didn’t seem to mind.

It was pretty obvious who they were crazy for.