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

Bentley family left without a home grateful for community support

Central Albertans are coming together to support a Bentley family left homeless… Continue reading

‘My nightmare began again’: Close call as bus carrying Humboldt crash survivor rear-ended

CALGARY — A terrifying ordeal for Humboldt Broncos survivor Ryan Straschnitzki this… Continue reading

Annual pace of housing starts picked up in November, tops expectations

OTTAWA — Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. says the annual pace of… Continue reading

China pressures US, Canada ahead of Huawei hearing

BEIJING — China raised the pressure on the United States and Canada… Continue reading

Equalization formula a hot topic as finance ministers meet

OTTAWA — For the first time in a decade Ontario will not… Continue reading

WATCH: Red Deer and District Kennel Club Dog Show at Westerner Park

The Red Deer and District Kennel Club is holding a dog show… Continue reading

Orlando SC acquires Canadian Tesho Akindele in trade with FC Dallas for cash

ORLANDO, Fla. — Canadian forward Tesho Akindele was traded to Orlando City… Continue reading

Koskinen notches third shutout, McDavid gets winner as Oilers blank Flames 1-0

EDMONTON — The Edmonton Oilers appear to have shored up their defence… Continue reading

Beyonce performs at pre-wedding party in India

Beyonce brought her star power to a pre-wedding party for the daughter… Continue reading

Kirk Douglas celebrates 102nd birthday

LOS ANGELES — Actor Kirk Douglas got to celebrate his 102nd birthday… Continue reading

Ellen Page steps up attack on Nova Scotia pulp mill’s effluent pipeline

HALIFAX — Hollywood actor Ellen Page is doubling down on her criticism… Continue reading

Pence aide out of running to be Trump’s next chief of staff

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s top pick to replace chief of staff… Continue reading

Swath of South faces wintry mess: Snow, sleet, freezing rain

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A massive storm brought snow, sleet, and freezing rain… Continue reading

‘I killed my best friend’: Opioids’ fatal grip on mayor, pal

MOUNT CARBON, Pa. — Janel Firestone found her son — the 24-year-old,… Continue reading

Most Read