What follows is mainly a description of the Opera House show, but also includes moments of the other shows as well.
Johnny was followed by a band called Seeing Red, a female-fronted band from Brampton. My chief criticism is that the lead guitar were very low in the mix, almost inaudible. Seeing Red also performed at the Rio show on Saturday.
They were followed by fellow StarUSA recording artists, Dukes Nitesmare, a surprisingly heavy Southern rock outfit from South Carolina. Over the space of their three Canadian shows, their catalog of material grew on me. Personal highlights include a cover of the Beatles' "Ticket to Ride", and the long guitar-laden climax to their ballad "Do I Love You" (two leads, acoustic, and bass, all working in tandem).
For the space of 45 minutes, Thor went through his catalog of hits. Classics such as "Thundra on the Tundra". "We Will Rock the City", "Let The Blood Run Red", "Keep The Dogs Away", "Thunderhawk" and "Ragnarok". He didn't play "Anger" until the Rio show the next night. Both the second Toronto show, and the London show, were around an hour.
My favorite part of the show was a segment entitled "Iron Man". Thor tells instructs the audience he got a hunk of metal from the local scrapyard, and then presents the metal bar to the fans - to get them to try and bend it. "It's a hell of a way to make a living. I bet the Backstreet Boys could never do this." He placed the bar in his mouth, wrapped in his touring T-shirt. Using his molars as a fulcrum, Thor spent about a minute a minute bending the bar in half, to the great acclaim of the audience. The segment ends as Donnie plays the opening notes of Black Sabbath's "Iron Man".
The props were all part of the fun, including his two rubber hammers, his sword, and an electric shield which glowed in the dark. Sometimes he would run around the stage, and the audience, sword and shield in hand. My favorite prop is the rubber snake which at one point in the show, he pulls out of a basket, which he then battles and slays with his sword. What great fun! All of those who attended the shows had a great time, and Thor spared nothing to keep us entertained.
Each show had its own special moments. At the Opera House show on Friday, his original guitarist came up on stage and did "Keep the Dogs Away". At the Rio show, another Toronto guitarist, who had once auditioned for Thor, also did the same song. At the Rio show on Saturday, he did two covers in his encore, Ted Nugent's "Cat Scratch Fever", and Gary Glitter's "Rock and Roll". He also did "Cat Scratch Fever" the following Monday in London. The London show had an added bonus - as he wrapped a microphone stand around the neck of a willing audience particpant.
We also met up with one Michael Pilmer, an assistant on the Thor tour, who's been recording the entire 13-date tour on both audio and video. Even though the Opera House show was sparsely attended, I've been told the video footage was excellent. it may be included in an upcoming video package, combined with other live moments from the 13-day tour, and special behind-the-scenes moments with the band. Hope to catch it one of these days.
We also met Michael again at the Rio gig, and on Sunday, my brother and I took him on a short tour of downtown Toronto's record shops. After returning him back to the motel, we drew a short map of the main downtown London streets, including the used record shops, and the location of the Monday venue. We also got a couple of nice snapshots of ourselves with Michael and Thor. That day, my brother gave Michael a very special gift - an original Piledriver "Metal Inquisition" LP. His eyes lit up he was told that Piledriver singer Gord Kirchen lives only about 20 blocks apart from my brother!
Before Thor's Rio gig, we also chatted briefly with Donnie. When I told him one of my favorite artists is Yngwie Malmsteen, he gave me a high five, and an "all right man", and showed off a very special Fender guitar which he as toting with him on the tour ("It's a duplicate of his Play Loud guitar"). We chatted about 80's metal favorites, such as Dokken, Dio, and early Iron Maiden ("B.D - Before Dickinson"), and several Shrapnel recording artists (Vinnie Moore, James Byrd). Very talented lad.