Better to Burn Out: C’Mon @ Chemical Sound

I had the pleasure of attending the recording of a live album by Canadian rock legends C’Mon last night, here in Toronto at a well-known recording studio called Chemical Sound. The band held a contest for entry to this event, in which they asked their fans to submit in writing their reasons for wanting to attend, in 30 words or less. I submitted this lame limerick:

Their once was a man from Chicago,

Who showed the Canucks how to rock, oh!

He toured all the land,

In his greatest of bands,

Without ever winning a Juno.

It doesn’t really even rhyme, but it’s exactly 30 words and it was apparently enough to get me in.

Sadly, it seems that this live recording, whenever it gets released, will be the last we hear from C’Mon for a while. The band has announced that they will ‘cease to exist’ after their current tour, and this show was a special part of their farewell festivities. I received an email invitation to come to the studio at 8pm, and I was excited by the prospect of seeing this rock and roll institution in an intimate environment.

The place was packed with well-known Toronto music personalities, friends, and family members of the band. For a solid hour, they blasted out frenzied rock riffs and made the building shake. Clearly enjoying themselves and the occasion, the band tore through song after song, displaying that innate chemistry that truly great rock bands have after years of playing together. Ian Blurton is something to behold in a live setting: bearded and demonic, he cuts an imposing figure as he shreds his way across the fretboard in a way that makes you almost feel empathy for the bruised, battered notes. His playing was driving and hard, and his soloing had a warped, bluesy feel. As a guitar player, I was stunned by Blurton’s command of his instrument. He deserves his reputation as one of the true legends of rock guitar in Canada, and I saw the proof played out all over his blood-stained guitar. I loved the beauty and simplicity of his equipment: just a couple of loud amps and a scarred Les Paul knock-off.

I am glad I got to witness this show, and I can’t wait to hear the album when it gets released. I have mixed feelings about C’Mon deciding to call it a day. No band can last forever, and those that attempt to are doomed to self-parody. The reasons the band has given for the split have been vague and humorous, which leads me to think that after years of carrying the torch for heavy rock in Canada, the band members are simply moving on to new phases of their lives. But as Blurton recently pointed out in an interview, Canada tends to under-value its heavy music somewhat. So one less band in the fight for great loud rock music is a bit of a tragedy. But on the other hand, it may come down to that age-old rock & roll cliché: is it better to burn out than fade away? Should an artist keep doing the same thing, even if they aren’t into it anymore? One thing that great artists teach us is that change is inevitable and necessary. I’m glad that C’Mon is going out with style and leaving their awesome legacy intact.


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