Big Sugar play sweet and loud show with Wide Mouth Mason


Big Sugar’s Gordie Johnson and Mr. Chill. Photo by Richard AmeryWide Mouth Mason and a reunited and re-energized Big Sugar put on a sweet show for an almost sold out Stone, Nov. 7.

 While the packed house waited for Big Sugar, they blasted Govt. Mule over the speakers.

 I’d never seen Big Sugar until this show, I’d only heard legends of how loud they were. I was impressed with their epic length set, which blended the best of  big bluesy riffs, reggae groove, solos, solos, solos and even some rap.

I actually expected them to be louder, but they were more than loud enough and they sounded great. And the packed house went home with their ears ringing.

You could hear every note everyone played and Wide Mouth Mason’s Safwan Javed added extra percusssion while band mate Shaun Verreault sat in the background playing rhythm guitar.

Gordie Johnson shows his Canadian pride. photo by Richard Amery
Frontman Gordie Johnson looked as happy as a pig in you know what as he switched guitars pretty much every song through an array of Gibson SGs and several double necked guitars.

They blasted through a set of familiar grooves like “Digging a Hole”, their scorching cover of “Dear Mr. Fantasy,”  “ If I had My Way,”and “I’m A Ram, ” which I know better as a Govt. Mule track, plus a lot of new jams including the new single “Roads Ahead,” plus “Sugah.”

 He didn’t talk much to the crowd only to ask how they were doing and to observe “that girl in the red shirt has it,” and to ask the crowd if they minded the band playing “a few new jams.”
He didn’t need to, letting the music do the talking . He sat back and let his band shine in their solo spots.

 Mr. Chill was amazing, alternating between beautifully bluesy harp, keyboard and saxophone, sometimes in the same song. The other long dreadlocked keyboardist  leaped out from behind his board to reggae rap a fewBig Sugar’s Gordie Johnson playing bass with Wide Mouth Mason, Nov. 7. Photo by Richard Amery verses in assorted places, then leaped back again.

The band switched effortlessly between reggae and big , dirty blues rock and even rap.
 Midway through  the 90-minute some straight set, they crashed into one of their big hits “Ride Like Hell,” then turned things down a notch for a few bars of “On the Road Again,” before playing  some reggae jams including Turn the Lights On.”  and “Li’l Bit All Right,” which was the theme of the night. And everything was indeed all right.
 They wound down their show with a solo spot , with Johnson almost yodelling “Tonight/ I Need You Now” before getting the crowd to sing “All Hell For A Basement,” one of several Alberta themed songs he performed. One of the many highlights was “True Believers,” one of his Alberta songs.

There wasn’t much break between songs as the band flowed through them seamlessly.

 He wound down the official show with his beautiful electrified version of O’ Canada,” which he ended with crashing chords and by turning his white double neck guitar backwards to reveal the Canadian flag painted on Shaun Verrault of Wide Mouth Mason. Photo by Richard Ameryit.
The howling crowd brought them back for a bluesy encore of “Red Rover,” and a psychedelic jam of  “The Scene.”


The opening act got the crowd well and truly warmed up. I always liked Wide Mouth Mason, one of my favourite Canadian bands from the early ’90s Shaun Verreault, bassist Earl Pereira and drummer Safwan Javed just clicked about perfectly, Pereira has moved on to other projects. However, Big Sugar’s Gordie Johnson, who also produced their latest CD “No Bad Days,” stepped in and showed his funk, not to mention his groove on the bass.

 And while Shaun Verrault has aged, he still has one heck of a set of soulful pipes and a way with a guitar as he plays with taste and soul.

 Their all too brief set included Wide Mouth Mason hits like “Why”  “Smile,” “This Mourning,” “Midnight Rain,” “My Old Self.”  It also included a lot of the new CD including “ Get a Hold Of You,” which Verrault said he wrote about drinking with ZZ Top’s Billy F. Gibbons, “Waterfall,”Burn It Down,” plus one he wrote with the Black Crowes’ Chris Robinson.


 — By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
{jcomments on} 
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 09 November 2011 12:56 )