Broken Social Scene pose in this undated handout photo. Members of Broken Social Scene had to make a difficult decision in the wake of the suicide bombing attack that left 22 people dead in Manchester. The Toronto band was scheduled to open the European leg of its tour for the upcoming album “Hug of Thunder” on May 23 at Albert Hall in Manchester. A day earlier, a terrorist attack struck Manchester Arena, where thousands of young people had turned out for an Ariana Grande concert. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Norman Wong *MANDATORY CREDIT*

Broken Social Scene reflects on Manchester show

TORONTO — Members of Broken Social Scene had to make a difficult decision in the wake of the suicide bombing attack that left 22 people dead in Manchester.

The Toronto band was scheduled to open the European leg of its tour for the upcoming album “Hug of Thunder” on May 23 at Albert Hall in Manchester.

A day earlier, a terrorist attack struck Manchester Arena, where thousands of young people had turned out for an Ariana Grande concert.

“We all sat in the backstage room and had a big group meeting to see how everybody felt,” recalls Charles Spearin, a member of the sprawling rock collective.

Questions circulated about whether the venue would still be open, while the band debated if it was appropriate to go on stage when emotional wounds were so fresh.

The band decided their show must go on and thought the sombre “Anthems for a Seventeen Year-Old Girl” would set the appropriate tone to open the concert.

Earlier plans had called for Manchester native Johnny Marr, former guitarist for the Smiths, to join the band on stage. But the guitarist was reticent to entertain his hometown crowd when the whole country was in emotional tatters.

Broken Social Scene singer Kevin Drew stayed in touch with him throughout the day.

“I would send him these little texts because he was very upset,” says Drew, who sent Marr a video message after visiting a memorial near the blast site.

“I recorded and said, ‘Here’s your city right now, Johnny,’ and an hour before we went on he called me.

“(He) went, ‘I gotta do it, especially if you’re playing ‘Anthems.’”

The powerful opener echoed across the Internet as fans shared videos of the performance. Some spoke about how the moment helped them find some solace.

Drew says he couldn’t have predicted the response.

“After we were done I said, ‘Well I hope someone recorded that,’” he remembers. “We were playing for the people in front of us and that was it.”

Reflecting on the unexpected confluence of circumstances, Drew says the tour ended up starting “in a really beautiful way.”

“In the sense of wiping away all the pettiness and stupidness that sometimes crops up in a band,” adds Spearin.

Broken Social Scene has endured its share of conflicts and disagreements, driven partly by the complications that come with a rotating membership that varies from six to 19 musicians.

It’s been seven years since their last album “Forgiveness Rock Record” was lauded by critics. Since then, many of the band’s members have progressed into their 40s, some have raised kids, and they’ve all pursued other musical projects.

Brendan Canning remembers the 2011 tour that caused inevitable rifts between bandmates. Cramped bus quarters and a lack of sleep had eroded their patience with each other.

“Add in some booze perhaps here and there,” he says.

“It’s not the way you’re supposed to be living a life, but you’re in the circus, so you have to just accept that.”

Temporarily dissolving their collective seemed like the right decision. And with the exception of some 2015 shows, they mostly stuck to that plan.

“The one thing that really drove us back together was a sense of curiosity,” says Spearin.

“Music sometimes isn’t so much an expression as it is a discovery.

“You write the music to find out what’s going on inside.”

“Hug of Thunder” is due out on Friday. Broken Social Scene plays Vancouver’s Commodore Ballroom on Oct. 21, Windsor, Ont.’s WFCU Centre on Nov. 1, and Toronto’s Air Canada Centre on Nov. 3 and 4.

Just Posted

Construction underway at Medicine River Wildlife Centre in Red Deer

The new building is twice the size of the old one

Fish for free

No license is required to ice fish on Family Day weekend

Music industry struggles to shake ugly legacy of sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll

TORONTO — Allegations of sexual misconduct swirling around pop-rockers Hedley have put… Continue reading

WATCH: Red Deer rings in the Chinese New Year

A couple hundred fill Festival Holiday to ring in the Year of the Dog

WATCH: From humble beginnings Red Deer-based wrestling promotion is growing

It wasn’t that long ago that Dylon Featherstone and the Canadian Wrestling… Continue reading

WATCH Replay Red Deer Feb. 18: Your weekly news highlights

Watch news from Red Deer and Central Alberta

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Life or death main decision for school shooting suspect

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — The evidence against the Florida school shooting suspect… Continue reading

Man who stole millions from Seabird Island band sentenced to 4.5 years jail

Stephen MacKinnon sentenced in Chilliwack court for stealing $2.3 million over eight years

Vancouver artist’s cartoon of Florida school shooting resonates

Cartoon shows football coach, one of the victims, meeting others killed in school shootings

B.C. man brings dog to court as ‘best witness’

Man is defending himself on charges of uttering threats, possessing weapon for dangerous purposes

WATCH: Polar dippers brave icy water to raise money for Sylvan Lake charities

The water may have been cold, but the amount of money raised… Continue reading

WATCH: Cat yoga — the purr-fect de-stresser, says Red Deer-area cafe owner

Felines and humans stretch together each month at Alley Cat Cafe

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month