Nadia Elkharadly: Bands I wish I could see live

Nadia LogoI definitely go to more concerts than the average person.  Some are small scale, like 25 people in a tiny bar.  Others are huge, like selling out huge sports arena huge.  Sometimes it starts to wear a little thin, the constant going out to different venues night after night, seeing band after band.  Don’t get me wrong, I still, and will always, love live music.  But as I mentioned in my last column, the excitement waxes and wanes when it comes to all the shows I go to.  But sometimes a special show comes along that really rekindles my passion for live music.  One of those such shows happened just the other day.

I’ve been a fan of the Headstones since their “Cubically Contained” days.   I became a fan of front man Hugh Dillon after his extraordinary performance in Hard Core Logo. I’d never gotten a chance to see the band live. In fact, I was very disappointed to discover they were playing in Toronto only to find out the show was already sold out. But thanks to good friends in opening bands (Thanks Mikey!) I was invited to their show at Lees Palace last Thursday.  From the moment I was told I merited an invite, that giddy, music fan excitement hit me.  It had been a couple of weeks at least since I’d been really excited to see a band.  It was probably since NXNE and the highly anticipated(by me and many others) Public Animal appearance.  I know that’s a pretty short time, but I’ve been to several shows in between, all of which I enjoyed, but none of which I anticipated to that degree.  The anticipation was well deserved – the Headstones blew me away.

headstonesThe Headstones fan base seems to be made up solely of diehards. Lees was packed wall to wall with people literally writhing with anticipation at what was to come. To be around that kind of excitement is incredible – you can feel it, it draws you in and you can’t resist. You know it’s going to be a good show when you’re already tense with excitement and the band hasn’t even hit the stage yet.  But that thrill level made the moment Dillon and company emerged all the more monumental.  And was it ever monumental. The Headstones put on an explosive performance.  From the first chord played to the last symbol smashed, the band was firing on all cylinders.   They played all their hits, including songs off their newly released (and crowdfunded through Pledgemusic) album Love+Fury, and classics like “Smile and Wave”.  Every song was as powerfully delivered as the last, and it was truly an experience to be in the presence of that kind of intensity.   These guys are rock and roll veterans, in the best possible way. It’s clear that they’d been doing this for years, but their enthusiasm is as high as ever.  It rarely happens that I’m awestruck at a show, but it happened that night, and I’m so happy I was able to experience that feeling, and that performance.

I was super lucky to see the Headstones live in such a fortuitous turn of events. Going to that show got me to wondering; what bands have I always wanted to see, but haven’t gotten the chance?  There are, of course many of those.   On a more self-pitying train of thought, I started thinking not only about bands I haven’t ever seen, but also those I would never get the chance to see.  It’s time for a list!  So here, in no particular order, are a few of the bands I would love to see, but for some reason or another, I likely never will.

Alice in Chains

I know that there is an incarnation of Alice in Chains that is currently active, both in creating music and in touring.  But that incarnation of AIC isn’t the one I would want to see.  To me, the only true Alice in Chains is one fronted by Layne Staley.  The combined voices of Staley and Jerry Cantrell were mesmerizing to me when I first heard the band back in the nineties, and still mesmerize me to this very day.  Add to that the heavy riffs, so perfectly distorted, and the core shaking bass that characterized songs like this one, and you come to see why Alice in Chains was one whose music can and does stand the test of time.

I know that there is an incarnation of Alice in Chains that is out there in the world right now, but without the voice of Layne Staley, and the bass of Mike Starr, it’s just not the Alice in Chains I’d ever want to see.


Being a child of the grunge era, I would be remiss in leaving Nirvana off my list of band’s I wished I’d seen.  I’ve always liked Nirvana; they weren’t a favourite, but I owned the cds, watched the videos and sang the songs like every other plaid and doc marten wearing teenager.  Had I gotten the chance, I would have loved to have attended a Nirvana show.  More than anything, I would have loved to have been in the room at THIS Nirvana show:

Unplugged in New York remains to this day my favourite Nirvana album, and that David Bowie cover my favourite song from it.  Seeing the band that made a point to trash every stage they could so calm, so stripped down and in such an intimate setting would have been a once in a lifetime experience.  Sadly, it won’t be one that I’ll have in my lifetime.

The Runaways

It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of female fronted, created and performed music.  While the Runaways may not have been the most well trained, or technically talented band of their time, they were still a group of girls who could seriously rock, and they did make history.  I listen to Live in Japan and which I could have been there to see Joan Jett and company on stage in their heyday.  I still sing this song at the top of my lungs in my car, and I play air guitar right along with it wishing I too could have been one of those rockin’ girls on stage, playing to adoring fans in a faraway country.

Though a couple of the Runaways are still actively making music, the untimely death of drummer Sandy West to cancer means that the original Runaways lineup can’t ever reunite, even if it had ever been a remote possibility.

Though I’ll always be able to listen to them recorded, it’ll never replace the experience of seeing these and so many other now defunct bands live and in person.  It’s a sad fact of life, and that’s something that my music lover self will just have to live with.  Luckily for me, there lots and lots of other great music that I will still get the chance to see live.  And I’m more than fine with that.

Until next time,




Nadia’s column appears every Wednesday

Contact us at:

DBAWIS ButtonNadia Elkharadly is a Toronto based writer with a serious addiction to music. Corporate drone by day, renegade rocker by night, writing is her creative outlet.  Nadia writes for the Examiner (.com) on live music in Toronto and Indie Music in Canada.  She has never been in a band but plays an awesome air guitar and also the tambourine.  Check in every Tuesday for musings about music, love, life and whatever else that comes to mind.

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One Response to “Nadia Elkharadly: Bands I wish I could see live”

  1. Hugh Dillon! I only know him as that guy on ‘Flashpoint’! He’s a damn good actor! As for your live choices, I did see the Runaways. Not play, but get interviewed. They were incredibly young and looked frightened more than anything. Now, a band with Hugh Dillon in it, I would love to see!

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