Where: McPherson Playhouse, 3 Centennial Sq.
When: Monday, Dec. 4, 8 p.m.
Tickets: $42.50-$105.75 from the Royal McPherson box office (250-386-6121) or rmts.bc.ca
When most people think of seasonal fare, holiday hitmakers Peggy Lee, José Feliciano, and Bing Crosby immediately come to mind. Not acts such as Glass Tiger.
The band behind the ’80s hits Someday and Don’t Forget Me (When I’m Gone) aren’t immune to the whims of a good Christmas tune, however. The Newmarket, Ont. group released Songs for A Winter’s Night in 2020, their first holiday-themed recording, comprised of original recordings written with a seasonal sensibility, along with a cover of Gordon Lightfoot’s A Song For a Winter’s Night.
The Christmas spirit doesn’t end there for the band. Led by co-founders Al Connelly (guitar), Alan Frew (vocals), and Sam Reid (keyboards), Glass Tiger is out on the road to support the album, with a stop at the McPherson Playhouse set for Monday.
“It was our project during COVID,” Reid said of the album. “We wanted to have something to show for our time off, because we weren’t touring. We had talked about it for over 35 years, and finally got a chance to do it.”
As for it taking three decades to come to fruition, there were myriad reasons for the delay, he added. “One of the challenges we had, and probably one of the reasons why we weren’t able to come up with a Christmas record for 35 years, was that we couldn’t come to an agreement. Everything we tried felt a little bit forced. The majority of Christmas music that bands release is usually some form of a cover, and the cheese-meter goes up pretty high.”
The tour — which features songs from their entire catalogue, above and beyond the Christmas content — kicked off Wednesday in Edmonton, and will remain in Western Canada for the duration. Glass Tiger spent most of December 2022 on the other side of the country, where its members are based. Western Canada has always been a top market for the group, however, so the band spends a great deal of time and energy appeasing audiences on both sides of the country, Reid said.
“We seem to resonate with the West Coast. It’s near to our heart, because we wrote a lot of our hits out in B.C. We’re delighted that we can go all the way to Vancouver and Victoria and have fans come out and sing along.”
The five-time Juno Award winners were one of the top Canadian exports during the 1980s, without question. Their signature hit, Don’t Forget Me (When I’m Gone), spent two weeks at No. 1 in 1986, and continues to elicit a strong response in concert and on streaming services today. The song was a big reason why Glass Tiger earned a Grammy Award for best new artist in 1987, and why audiences continue to see them perform today.
“A lot of times people are aware of that song but have not made the leap to the rest of the catalogue,” Reid said. “That happens to us a fair amount to us. But with a song like My Town [from 1991’s Simple Mission], people will come up and say, ‘I can’t tell you how many years I ’ve been listening to that song, and I did not know it was you guys.’ They think it’s a band from England or Scotland or somewhere.”
Glass Tiger is far from a one-hit wonder; Thin Red Line, I’m Still Searching and Diamond Sun were all big hits for the group. And with that in mind, Glass Tiger was inducted into Canada’s Walk of Fame in September for having a catalogue of music consistent in its quality over a 39-year period.
Thanks to services like Spotify, Reid and his bandmates can now see the markets where they do well, and hone in on those areas when they go on tour.
“In the early years, when we toured in Europe, U.S. and Canada, we really weren’t aware who was listening, other than the people you were singing to that night,” Reid said. “Now, of course, everything is measured. So when people are listening in places all over the world, we get to know about it. It puts a location stamp on it.”