Not many bands can claim as fierce a fan loyalty as Sloan, and that's especially true in the band's hometown of Halifax. Even though the group members have lived in Toronto for more than a decade now, they will always be the city's pride and joy, and the love is returned by the band. Local shows are always a big deal, and it was especially fortunate the group would be hitting Halifax this year for the annual Halifax Pop Explosion. Fortunate for the Top 100 Canadian Singles, too. We were able to schedule our Halifax book launch inbetween a couple of Sloan shows, and convince some of the group to stop on by.
Three years ago, when the book was launched in this city, Eric's Trip, one of the original Pop Explosion groups of the city, played the book launch for the Top 100 Canadian Albums. Contemporaries and best pals of Sloan, it remains one of my great memories of that time. So the chance to grab Sloan was too much to pass up. Luckily, Chris Murphy and Jay Ferguson happily agreed, and Chris emailed to say they would have something special lined up for the show, too.
The Pop Explosion was already well underway when I rolled into town Thursday, and my first action was to make sure I saw Sloan's set that night. Held at The Paragon, the group had decided to perform their classic album Twice Removed in its entirety, something they had only done once before, at last summer's Sappyfest in Sackville, N.B. Now, Twice Removed is the favourite of most critics and fans, and finished at #14 in the poll for The Top 100 Canadian Albums. I can report it was a fabulous gig, the songs well-rehearsed, and it reminded me of just how exciting Sloan was when they first hit the scene. The packed house agreed.
Onto Friday, Oct. 22nd, and launch day. The event was held at The Carleton Restaurant, and MC'd by co-owner and pal Mike Campbell. Now, you'll remember Mike from his MuchMusic, Mike and Mike days. Now he's the face of the most enjoyable performance and dining spot in the city, which features great local, national and international performers. It's a great spot for drinks, dinner and memorable music. If somebody is playing there, you can pretty much be assured you're going to enjoy them. Mike hit the stage first with an introduction, then threw a bunch of questions at me about the book. But soon, we were rudely interrupted by a stage invasion, in the form of one Chris Murphy, who felt Mike was giving me too many easy questions. He wanted to know more dirt, and find out why Sloan hadn't finished higher. I reminded him three singles in the Top 100 of all time in this country is pretty darn good for this survey, and finally he relinquished the stage.
Then it was time for what the packed house was expecting. Armed with acoustic guitars, and their trusty touring keyboard pal Greg, Chris and Jay came up for a mini-set. They opened with Underwhelmed, and followed that with Coax Me, two of the three Sloan hits in the Singles book. Then came the surprise I'd been promised. The guys had worked up a cover of another of the hits from the book, and we were treated to an excellent take on Martha and the Muffins' classic Echo Beach. Originally scheduled to just do the three songs, it was such a hit the mini-band had to return for another, choosing The Other Man. Below you'll see pictures of Mike Campbell introducing things, a very blurry Dale Murray of Cuff The Duke and Christina Martin, two of my favourite Haligonian performers, Mike grilling me on why his favourite singles aren't in the book, Chris and Jay, and finally an extremely rare shot of Stephen Cooke of the Chronicle-Herald actually drinking a beer he paid for himself.