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Canadian musicians recall Massey Hall memories

Last Updated Jul 1, 2018 at 2:39 pm EDT

If the stage could talk it would have an amazing story to tell. Massey Hall has seen performances from the world’s top performers, from hometown hero Neil Young to Bob Marley and The Wailers.

July 2nd the iconic hall will be closing the famous red doors for two years as the building undergoes massive renovations. Some of Canada’s top musicians who have played the stage shared with us what the venue has meant to their career.

Raine Maida, Our Lady Peace

“Massey Hall is probably the one venue on an extensive tour that I try to get to the sound check early and it really has to do with the design of the hall. I love going up on stage before anyone else gets there and just singing with the acoustics and just letting it resonate in the hall and it’s such an incredible feeling that I haven’t really felt in that acoustic balance in any other place in the world.

Ryan Gullen, The Sheepdogs

“Every moment of playing there was special because we knew it was closing for renovations and we knew it was our last chance to play there for a while. I think for me a really special moment was that my parents were in town because my dad was undergoing treatment for cancer and I’m not sure how many opportunities he will have to see us play live again. At a moment I looked out into the crowd and I saw my parents from where I was standing and it was a special moment for me to see my parents there who have supported us and our band for a very long time to be able to take in such a pinnacle moment in our career and be part of that considering everything that was going on.”

Ewan Currie, The Sheepdogs

“I think part of what makes Massey Hall so special is that there is a sense of awe when you walk out on stage. The scope and size of the place is very high up and fans are way above you and there are not a lot of venues in Canada where you sort of feel that sense of awe and that’s my favourite thing about Massey. Playing at Massey Hall was probably the highlight of our most recent tour and it’s probably the coolest place that we have every played in Canada.”

Sam Coffey, Sam Coffey and the Iron Lungs

“We were fortunate enough to open for the Sheepdogs at Massey Hall in March and it’s a night I will never forget. I remember one of the first concerts I left my hometown for was to see Ryan Adams at Massey Hall. I remember the one mic hanging down from the ceiling and I remember stepping on stage and I looked up and I saw the one mic hanging down from the ceiling. I’ll also never forget how proud my mom was, it gave her a lot of validation and she texted me before I went on and asked if I could give her a shout-out on stage because it would mean a lot to her. I remember I told her I loved her on stage and I could hear her screaming from the back row. It was really special.”

Sam Roberts, Sam Roberts Band

“We were really, really revved up for the first show we played at Massey. We played 2 nights there and I remember the first night vividly. I can only liken it to walking into a force field of the dawning of the realization that we are actually here playing on this stage and the weight of it, I really felt it. It was the first time in a while that I felt nervous going on the stage. It’s almost like a a right of passage as a musician.It’s the kind of thing that you want to share with the people around you. Like when Matt [Mays] played we all felt this amazing feeling of joy and comradery for him that he was getting his chance to play.”

Matt Mays, Singer/Songwriter

“Every show in my life that I thought was the best I think happened at Massey Hall. I feel really lucky that I got to play their and I’m excited to see what they do with the place. I’m happy that they are investing in it so that musicians can play in it for at least another 123 years!”

Max Kerman, Arkells

“We’ve seen so many shows there as music fans, we’ve seen everybody from Wilco to Ryan Adams, Blue Rodeo. There have been so many incredible shows that I have seen there that to be able to play on that same stage and offer somebody else that kind of night is something really special that I won’t forget.”

Mike DeAngelis, Arkells

“It’s such a special place and you see all the other posters on the wall and you’ve heard all the records it was very overwhelming and memorable to play on that stage. I’m really glad they are going to keep it going and keep the spirit alive there.”

Brandon Scott, Yukon Blonde

“We had the pleasure of playing Massey Hall in 2015 with our good friends Hey Rosetta. It was one of the shows on the tour that we were looking forward to, it was the golden show. We were waiting for it and waiting for it and the anticipation was high. I remember just standing on that stage and the massive sealing above me. I had never been there before and there was a huge sold out crowd and I remember looking around and thinking, ‘how did I get here?’ I know all of my band mates feel the same. It was one of those life changing shows.”

Royal Wood, singer/songwriter

“When I Was a kid I saw Lou Reed at Massey. My music teacher drove me to see the show in Toronto and it changed my life. There is no other room or venue in the world that I have been in either as a performer or as an audience member that put such a spell on me and made me want to be on that stage. That was my driving goal in music. It was a magical night performing on the stage. I’m sad it’s closing but I am exciting to see what they dream up. I think one phase of Massey Hall is now done and I am honoured to be a part of that phase.”

Sue Passmore, Good Lovelies

“We had our first Massey Hall performance this May when we performed as special guest for Royal Wood. It was a really special moment for all of us in Good Lovelies for so many reasons. Knowing that we were walking the same walk and the same floor boards as so many great musicians before us made it that much more glorious. We will never forget the magical night.”

David Beckingham, singer/songwriter

“Playing at Massey was a beautiful and surreal experience for me. It was my first time in the building, I had never been a to a show there before which is kind of a crazy thing that the first show I was there for was my own! I was opening for Emily Haines and found out 5 days before the show happened that I was going to be opening. I remember asking the guy at sound check if I had tons of reverb on my vocals and he said ‘no, that’s the Massey verb’, it was just the sound of the room. It was amazing. I loved it.”

Michael Kaeshammer, singer/songwriter

“Playing at Massey for me meant a big step in my career not only in Toronto but in Canada. A lot of records I grew up were recorded at Massey from Charlie Parker to classical jazz. It’s one one of the most comfortable halls I can remember performing in. When you stand at the front of the stage it feels like you’re in a living room because the stage is so far into the front of the hall that you actually feel that you’re in the hall. It’s fantastic and I can’t wait for it to reopen!”