A Review Of:
Phoenix Concert Theater, Toronto / October 30, 2008

Well, it was just over 10 months ago that I last saw Carl Dixon and wrote about his ‘return’ at the time. Back then it was Carl’s live band back in Toronto, doing a full electric show of Coney Hatch and Carl solo tunes. But on this night it was a ‘comeback’ of a very different kind. Back in April Carl was critically injured in a car accident in Australia; initially rescuers didn’t think he’d make it, but he did, and his recovery over the past 7 months has been miraculous and a very positive story. With so many broken bones, cuts, bruises, a lost eye, etc…[you can read the full report at Carl’s site] – the site of Carl on stage at one point w/ guitar in hand and singing better than ever was the evening’s highlight and emotional for Carl and the fans who packed the club.


Gerry McGhee of Brighton Rock Carl Dixon addresses the audience Carl coming on stage

First up was Russ Dwarf [frontman of Canuck rockers Killer Dwarfs] with his band performing a solid set, mainly of Dwarfs tracks. Russ Dwarf’s vocals being loud and strong, and the lead Dwarf puts on quite an act going through such rockers as “Dirty Weapons”, “Stand Tall” and “Doesn’t Matter” [among others] and closing with the anthem “Keep The Spirit Alive”. Next up was the return of rockers Brighton Rock, boasting the same guys as usual and lead by mild-mannered frontman Gerry McGhee. Heck, I never got in to Brighton Rock much on record, but live, these guys kicked up a storm, roaring through such rockers and radio hits from the lead off “Bulletproof” and “Hollywood Shuffle”, the aor rock hit “One More Try”, the aggressive serial killer themed “Nightstalker” [being a high point of their set], and the anthem  “We Came To Rock”. 

Carl on stage

Carl with Jerry Mercer of April Wine

Brian Vollmer and Helix

Next up would be the return of former Coney Hatch bass player / founder and other vocalist – Andy Curran [with the return of his early 90s band Soho 69]. BUT before that, original Coney Hatch drummer Dave “Thumper” Ketchum took the stage to introduce Carl Dixon. And out came Carl, still on crutches to a tremendous applause. It was his return to the stage, and after a speech and numerous thank-yous Carl, with acoustic guitar, played 2 brand new songs – one written about his whole ordeal aptly titled “Stitches, Sutures and Staples” and the other [from his forthcoming solo album] titled “Mercy” [which he’s actually played live before]. He then introduced friend and April Wine drummer [and Canadian legend Jerry Mercer!] onstage as well as any of his musical friends ‘hanging around’ backstage to join them.  Among them up came solo band-mates Tim Harrington and Mark Santers, Russ Dwarf, Helix’s Brian Vollmer [w/ hand-cam!] and a few others. Carl played guitar and sang Stephen Stills “Love The One You’re With”, with Mercer beside him playing a drum with hands and the various guests singing along on the chorus.

It was quite a sight, a remarkable [as brief as it was] set – and the crowd and Carl loved every minute of it. The man got back up on his crutches, and with his wife – took a seat on stage right to watch the return of his former Coney Hatch band-mate, long time friend and organizer of the whole event – Andy Curran [w/ Soho 69]. Soho 69 played a few tracks from the band’s lone 1993 album “Scatterbrain” [oddly missing was the radio hit “Kiss My Boots”], as well as a few tracks from Curran’s 1990 solo album “No Tattoos”, a cool rendition of Neil Young’s “Cinnamon Girl” and Coney Hatch faves such as “Stand Up” and their debut hit “Monkey Bars” which proved to be the next highlight of the evening.

After Soho 69, Carl Dixon left his seat on stage and crutched it all the way to the back of the venue where he sat the rest of the night signing shirts, CDs, and posing for pictures – like always, A real trooper!

Andy Curran of Soho 69

Carl and myself

Andy Curran and myself

I actually felt bad for Helix, who were up last, and have been going strong for years, lead by wild-man Brian Vollmer [and his many hats]. By then the crowd was beginning to really thin out, but Helix played a great set of new and old tunes and sounded really strong [Vollmer can still sing as powerful as ever – 30 + years on] with such faves as “Gimme Gimme Good Lovin”, “Fill Your Head With Rock” [from their latest album ‘Power Of Rock n Roll’], “Deep Cuts The Knife”, their hit anthem “Rock You” and ending with the power ballad “Dream On”.

In all, a great evening for Canadian rockers, and a wonderful return for Carl Dixon.

Proceeds of the evening [including a pair of AC/DC tix that auctioned for like $600 or more] – went to help the enormous costs that piled up on Carl and his family from his accident. Congrats to Andy Curran and all the bands for a remarkable night.

If you'd like to make a donation to the Carl Dixon Accident fund, you can do so at:  www.fullmetalpackage.com

Also check out:  www.carldixon.com , www.planethelix.com , www.brightonrock.ca & www.killersdwarfs.com

All photos courtesy – Derek Spear

Review: © Kevin J. Julie / Universal Wheels, October 2008