Big Wreck’s Ian Thornley is a man of few words; lets guitars do the talking

When he isn’t singing, Big Wreck’s Ian Thornley is a man of few words. Perhaps wisely, he let his guitars do most of the talking at Monday night’s near sellout rock concert at Red Deer’s Memorial Centre. And it turned out the six-stringers the frontman regularly traded off (one per song, in every colour, as if guitar-making elves were busy backstage) had a lot of fascinating things to say.

Big Wreck front man and guitarist Ian Thornley and the band took to the stage at the Memorial Centre Monday for a sold out show in Red Deer. The Canadian rock band is currently touring western Canada with dates in Grande Praire

When he isn’t singing, Big Wreck’s Ian Thornley is a man of few words.

Perhaps wisely, he let his guitars do most of the talking at Monday night’s near sellout rock concert at Red Deer’s Memorial Centre. And it turned out the six-stringers the frontman regularly traded off (one per song, in every colour, as if guitar-making elves were busy backstage) had a lot of fascinating things to say.

Thornley and fellow Big Wreck guitarists Paolo Neta and Brian Doherty coaxed indelible sounds from their endless parade of different instruments. From the Celtic-flavoured melody for Albatross, created with a double-necked electric number, to the echoey, atmospherics on Blown Wide Open, achieved with more standard guitar, the concert was a very cool, visceral listening experience.

Certainly the 600-plus Central Alberta fans who attended thought so. Many were up on their feet by the second tune, That Song, waving their arms and rock fingers in the air.

Meanwhile, purple and blue stage lights swept the band as Thornley repeated the familiar refrain: “I really love that tune, Man, I loooove that song, I really loooove that song. …”

Despite some sound-system distortion, the performance underlined that Thornley’s other most powerful instrument is his distinctive, acrobatic tenor voice.

He used it almost operatically on songs like I Digress, about jealous insecurity, which involves a painfully howled “ooooh” preceding “I’m the one for you.” On Wolves, Thornley sang “bleeeed out your heart (if it’s still beating for someone else)” as if the words are actually being drained out of him.

His big voice was cast like a net over the audience during the tunes My Life and Ghosts, roping us in with such lines as “If these ghosts let me go, I would set fire to them all. …” The latter song also included that rarest of beasts, an innovative guitar/bass duel between Thornley and McMillan,

It became very evident that Big Wreck is made up of five immensely talented musicians — including drummer Chuck Keeping, who helped create a darkly hypnotic and building beat, starting with a throw to Pink Floyd’s Another Brick in the Wall and finishing with an intense version of Big Wreck’s Ladylike.

For the record, Thornley did do some talking: He threw out a “How’re ya doing?” to the crowd, apologized for forgetting the second verse of a song (he said he should just write two first verses in future and be done with it), and admitted he can’t stand to be around smokers since quitting a couple of months ago.

But let’s face it, his music spoke louder.

By the encore, a quarter of audience members had left their seats and were crowding around the stage as musical chameleon Neta sang Highway to Hell (doing an amazing job of channelling AC/DC, by the way). Thornley later took back the mike to close the show with Big Wreck’s early hit, The Oaf.

As he finished singing “My luck is wasted,” Thornley launched into an otherworldly guitar solo that was haunting, strange and indescribable — a fantastic way to end an unforgettable concert.

The night opened with another talented band, “rock ’n’ roll mammoth” Royal Tusk. Edmonton’s bearded rockers have good sense of a catchy riff, as shown in such songs as The Letter and another that curses the weather, ‘‘cause we hate it when it rains.” Singer Daniel Carriere can also play a mean harmonica.

lmichelin@bprda.wpengine.com

Just Posted

Tsunami warning for B.C.’s coast is cancelled after Alaska quake

VANCOUVER — A tsunami warning issued for coastal British Columbia was cancelled… Continue reading

Sewage spill shuts beaches along California’s Central Coast

MONTEREY, Calif. — Nearly 5 million gallons of sewage spilled into the… Continue reading

‘Shape of Water’ producer, Christopher Plummer among Canadian Oscar nominees

TORONTO — A Toronto producer who worked on “The Shape of Water”… Continue reading

US, others launch new tool to punish chemical weapons users

PARIS — The United States and 28 other countries are launching a… Continue reading

Fewer than half of Canadians hold optimistic, open view of the world: poll

OTTAWA — Canada’s reputation as a nation with an open and optimistic… Continue reading

WATCH news on the go: Replay Red Deer Jan. 21

Watch news highlights from Red Deer and Central Alberta

RDC chosen to host 2019 men’s volleyball national championship

Sports enthusiasts in Red Deer will have more to look forward to… Continue reading

Police is still looking for Second World War army passport owner

No one has claimed a rare Second World War German army passport… Continue reading

DJ Sabatoge and TR3 Band kick off Sylvan Lake’s Winterfest 2018

Central Alberta’s youngest DJ will open for TR3 Band kicking off Town… Continue reading

Two Canadians, two Americans abducted in Nigeria are freed

Kidnapping for ransom is common in Nigeria, especially on the Kaduna to Abuja highway

WATCH news on the go: Replay Red Deer Jan. 21

Watch news highlights from Red Deer and Central Alberta

Liberals quietly tap experts to write new paternity leave rules

Ideas include creating an entirely new leave benefit similar to one that exists in Quebec

Insurers say Canadian weather getting hotter, wetter and weirder

Average number of days with heavy rain or snow across Canada has been outside norm since spring 2013

Are you ready for some wrestling? WWE’s ‘Raw’ marks 25 years

WWE flagship show is set to mark its 25th anniversary on Monday

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