Harem Scarem Live at Norma Jean’s London Ontario
June 27th 2015
After a 2 1/2 hour drive in the pouring rain, we finally got to London from Oshawa. With a nice dinner at the Hilton Hotel it was time to get ready to see one of my favourite bands, Harem Scarem!! This is my 6th time seeing them as Harem Scarem and once in 1999 when they opened up for April Wine under the name of Rubber.
Unable to get there in time for the first band, Nail, we did catch most of the set of a band called Counterwait. They sounded good and more in the line of Nickelback.
The next band which I always enjoy seeing is Honor First (previously called Heaven’s Fire). Usually when they perform there is a large number of followers that flock to the front of the stage but not in the case of the London crowd. They sounded great and I’m hoping some of the tracks will be on an up and coming CD!!
Finally 11:30 PM hits and I am front row centre as Harem Scarem hits the stage. Out comes Pete Lesperance on guitar, Darren Smith on drums and newest member Stan Miczek on bass. Harry Hess on vocals starts it off with the first song from the new album 13 “Garden of Eden”. Only a handful of fans were singing along to the new tune and were right at par with the CD. Bringing it back to the first album comes “Hard To Love” which is always a crowd pleaser. Following up with the big hit off the Mood Swings album is “Saviors Never Cry”. I think I almost lost my voice by the end of this classic song.
Going into something a little newer is “Dagger” from the 2005 release Overload. This song has made most of the set lists since the album was released. A little slower comes – “Distant Memory” off their first album then back to the new album with “The Midnight Hours”. It is great hearing the new music after seeing them a handful of times and nice to hear them change it up.
Harry Hess takes a break as someone requests the instrumental “Mandy”. Pete Lesperance is back after breaking an arm and played it just perfectly. Welcome back Pete. Keeping it slower comes a big hit from the Harem Scarem album “Slowly Slipping Away”. With many fans singing and the floor packed up at the stage it brought back the memories of watching the Power Hour on Much Music and the great rock videos.
With the new album just out late last year, we got to hear “Troubled Times”. Another great track from my second favourite CD of 2014.
It was time for Darren Smith to take over the vocals. He was working hard and putting on a good sweat to entertain us all. “Sentimental Blvd.” from the Mood Swings album shows Darren as an all around music genius. Playing drums and singing. I even got to see him play guitar for Helix at one time!! Harry is the voice of Harem Scarem, but it is always a nice treat to have Darren on vocals. We didn’t get the pleasure of hearing Pete Lesperance sing tonight, but he has taken over the vocals for a song or two in the past!!
After this high-energy song, it was time to slow things down again with possibly their biggest hit from their Harem Scarem CD “Honestly”. This is a party crowd in London and we are all singing along to this classic rock ballad.
Going back to the Mood Swings CD comes “Stranger Than Love”, then right back to highlighting the new CD with “All I Need” and “Saints and Sinners”.
Now comes my all time favourite song “Karma Cleansing” from the 1997 release. In Japan, the album was called Believe but here in North America they call this album Karma Cleansing. They did an outstanding job to close off the set.
After a few minutes to give the band a break they were right back up with the 2-song encore going back to the Mood Swings album for both. “Change Comes Around” and “No Justice”.
The sound was really good as this was my first time at Norma Jean’s, but the lighting would be a bit of a nightmare for taking photos.
I was happy with the set list. As much as I would like to hear more, how many of us can do what they do for almost an hour and a half? Another great show – and if you missed this show make sure you catch July 11th in Toronto for the filming of their next DVD.
Shawn “Animalize” Irwin
Purchase Tickets to the July 11th Concert for the filming of the new DVD. Tickets.
Listen to “Garden Of Eden” from their newest release 13. And read The Meister‘s review of 13: Lucky Number Thirteen