Double-barrelled blast from the past to take the Westerner Day stage
They came from neighbouring provinces and their music helped define Canadian radio in adjoining decades.
Now Harlequin and Honeymoon Suite are joining up to perform a high-energy double-bill concert on Friday at Red Deer’s Westerner Days.
And fans who grew up in the 1970s and ’80s will no doubt be thrilled to hear this double-barrelled blast from the past.
Harlequin formed as a four-piece band in Winnipeg in 1975, featuring vocalist George Belanger. On one of the band’s tours to Toronto, Harlequin was heard by high-level producer Jack Douglas.
It was a total fluke because Douglas had originally tried to hear a bigger band play in a larger bar, but got turned away due to a sellout crowd. The other band’s loss was Harlequin’s gain. Douglas, who had produced records by Aerosmith, John Lennon, and Patti Smith, helped the little-known Canadians get signed to CBS/Epic Records in 1979.
What followed was heavy radio play for the band, which produced a run of hits right into the mid 1980s, including Victim of a Song, Thinking of You, Innocence, Superstitious Feeling and I Did It For Love.
Harlequin stopped touring in 1986 and was inducted into the Western Canadian Music Awards in 2006.
In 2007, Harlequin was reformed by Belanger with a different lineup of musicians. The new band released new albums in 2007 and 2009 and continues to tour the country.
Honeymoon Suite, as the name suggests, was formed in the honeymoon capital of Niagara Falls, Ont., in 1981.
The band featured vocalist Johnny Dee as well as lead guitarist and songwriter Derry Grehan. On the strength of the band’s first single, New Girl Now, which made it onto U.S. charts, Honeymoon Suite was signed to the WEA Canada record label.
The group’s debut self-titled album was released in 1984, featuring other chart hits Burning in Love, Wave Babies and Stay in the Light.
This was followed by more albums and more hits, including Bad Attitude, Feel It Again, What Does It Take and All Along You Knew (the latter was included in the John Cusack film One Crazy Summer, while Bad Attitude was featured in the TV series finale of Miami Vice in 1989).
In 1986-87, the band performed the title track to Mel Gibson’s film Lethal Weapon, as well as the track Those Were the Days for the Charlie Sheen film The Wraith.
By the time their greatest hits album was released in 1989, group members had more successful singles under their belt, including Love Changes Everything, Looking Out For Number One, It’s Over Now, Still Loving You and Long Way.
Honeymoon Suite continued touring through the 1990s and 2000s. In 2002, the group released its first studio album in 11 years, then put out another greatest hits album in 2006, and CD of new music, Clifton Hill, in 2008.
The 8:30 p.m. double-bill concert at the Centrium is free with Westerner Days gate admission.