Rock the Lake IV delivered a three-day-weekend smorgasbord of classic rock in the Prospera Place parking lot with a promise for the same delectable recipe on Aug. 7-9, 2020.
The surprise dessert treat was Tom Cochrane and Red Rider as the Saturday night closer. The iconic Canadian band disregarded the nostalgia concert formula used by that night's earlier hard-rockers Streetheart, The Romantics and 54-40: a teaser (minor) hit early in the setlist, wailing guitars and sonic percussion, and their major hits in a climatic conclusion.
Cochrane, looking like but not acting like his 66 years, teased with three phrenetic rock songs but then surprised ardent fans who packed the massive dance floor with Big League, one of the band's most successful and popular singles originally released in the 1988 album Victory Day. Last year, Cochrane released a new solo recording as a charity single to benefit the victims and survivors of the Humboldt Broncos bus crash.
He endeared himself to cheering fans, now standing in reverence, even more: "It is your song. It's for each of you growing up and playing hockey (in) the best country in the world. This is the big league."
After this barnburner, complete with loud audience chorus, he turned the tables again, ignored the formula, and performed two songs on his acoustic guitar. The first, without his bandmates, would be Avenue 'A', the first song he wrote for Red Rider when he joined the three-year-old band in 1978, he announced.
Instead, he played the first line of Leonard Cohen's Bird on the Wire (Songs From A Room, 1969), joking he decided on "something different."
His joking didn't stop: "In 1980, I came through Kelowna. I was five. We were one of those kids' bands, six-seven years old. It was like paradise here. You guys are like us tonight, a bunch of freaks. So why did it take so long to bring us here? I want to come back every year."
Between more hard rockers, Cochrane threw in a cover of Ray Charles' Hit the Road Jack (Hit the Road Jack/The Danger Zone, 1961) with a lusty chorus from the audience, now standing in the aisles and lawn chair seating areas.
The perfect bookend to Big League was the finale, Life is a Highway, also appropriate since the band took the highway to Kelowna from Calgary and would hit the road to the next gig.
An encore, now well past the 10 p.m. scheduled concert end, was dedicated to the Canadian Armed Forces by Cochrane, an honourary colonel with the 409 Tactical Fighter Squadron based in Cold Lake, Alta.
Earlier Saturday marked the return of Streetheart to playing live shows after a two-year hiatus to honour the passing of lead vocalist Kenny Shields in 2017. Paul McNair (Harlequin) took over lead vocals, joining founding members Daryl Gutheil (keyboards), Ken “Spider” Sinnaeve (bass 1977-85, rejoined this year), Jeff Neill (guitar 1981-1984, 2003-present) and David Langguth (drummer Kim Mitchell/Nelly Furtado).
The Romantics from Detroit (but nearly Canadian by close association) did include a cover of the Animals' We Gotta Get Out of This Place (Animal Tracks, 1965) in addition to their major hits, What I Like About You (The Romantics, 1978) and Talking in Your Sleep (In Heat, 1983).
Alternative rock band 54-40 from Tsawwassen has evolved into harder rock with Neil Osbourne on vocals/rhythm guitar (1981–present) often delivering the lyrics like a chant.
He too joked: "I want to bring you rock 'n' roll salvation. We are on a mission from God. Have you got spirit and have you got soul? I hope you all have your lyric sheets. Let's make all those people in those condos jealous they're not here." Fans obliged by singing along on hits I Go Blind (54-40, 1986) and One Day in Your Life (Show Me, 1987).
On Friday, long-time fans of Pat Travers recognized the significance of his cover of Come On Baby (Let the Good Times Roll), a song he "stole" from Jimi Hendrix "who stole it from somebody else" for his album Electric Ladyland in 1968. Soon after picking up the guitar at age 12, Travers saw Hendrix perform in Ottawa, an influence still reflected in the Pat Travers Band musical style.
David Wilcox provided Friday's smorgasbord with everything from rock to Mississippi blues to boogie to jazz.
Honeymoon Suite proved 'rock lives' with hypnotic guitar chords and incessant drumbeat accentuated by the piercing vocals of Johnnie Dee. The exception was the closing pop hit Girl Like Me (Honeymoon Suite, 1984). "Thanks for having us back. What a fricking town. Next time, I'll be living in this town (after touring)," Dee vowed.
Sunday's pouring rain from beginning to end didn't dissuade several thousand fans who brought plastic ponchos, umbrellas and even garbage bags to try to stay dry although some took shelter in the Prospera Place overhang and dried off inside.
Sunday's theme was exclusively hard rock with lead singers - Allen Harlow of Prism, Katrina (Kat) Lawrence of Headpins, James Durbin of Quiet Riot and Ra McGuire of Trooper - proving they could scream with the best of them. In-between were numerous extended reverbrating guitar solos, duos and team efforts, all applauded and cheered.
Full three-day passes for next year’s Rock the Lake V start at $153, plus taxes and service charges, and are available for pre-purchase for a limited time at: selectyourtickets.com. Further ticket information for VIP passes, single-day admission and parking will be available soon. The weekend lineup will be released in the fall.