Leaving Winnipeg. Inna and I got up early to be sure that we had packed everything we needed for our three-day
trip to Toronto, Ontario.
The roughly two-hour plane trip to Toronto was smooth; we were among only about 20 passengers.
We arrived at Toronto Pearson International Airport around 8:30 a.m. We had breakfast at the airport’s Tim Horton’s.
From the airport, we rode Bus #129, which took us to the subway’s Kipling
Station, a roughly 45-minute trip—fare was $3.25 per person. At Kipling, we boarded
the subway train—$3-token—and alighted at Bloor-Yonge junction—about 30 minutes’
trip. The area of the streets Bloor and Yonge may be regarded as the heart of
Downtown Toronto; Eaton Shopping Centre is there and countless other business and
commercial establishments—boutiques, specialty shops, restaurants, hotels, and offices. If one is planning a trip to Toronto or any relatively nearby cities
such as Mississauga, Markham, or Scarborough, Downtown Toronto is a must-see—very alive and animated, a pleasantly bustling community.
. When we got out
of the subway station and were already in the streets of downtown, it was almost
midday. Before we had lunch at Hue's Kitchen (774 Yonge St.), we decided to check out first the record store Sunrise Records
(784 Yonge St.). I
bought only one vinyl record, $7—Free Hand
(1975), the seventh studio album of the English Progressive Rock band
Gentle Giant, which contains my favorite Giant song, “On Reflection.”
Sony Centre for the Performing Arts (1 Front St. East)
After lunch, guided by the tips of our friends Allan Grimares and Le-van de Guzman of California, USA, about "artist stalking," Inna and I decided to check out very early the venue of the New Order concert. There would be two shows—in the evening of that day and of the next day. And although we were watching the second show, we thought of going to the venue that day because, considering that it was the first show, it was very likely that New Order would arrive early that afternoon for the customary sound check.
From Bloor-Yonge, we boarded a subway train heading Union Station ($3)—about
10 minutes away; we alighted at King St. station; and from there, we walked for only about five minutes to get to the venue. It was almost 2:00
p.m. We surveyed the building; there was one front entrance area and one back-door
We waited patiently outside the venue's back door.
Funnily, when we asked the security manning the back door where the
backstage was, he happily ushered us in and directed our way to the stage,
apparently assuming that Inna and I were part of the crew, who were already
setting up the stage. We gawked around wide-eyed with our big backpacks. We were inside only for about 10 minutes when someone asked whom we were with and what we were doing there; after I said that we wanted to meet New Order, the guy immediately walked us out the back door, saying, “Oh, no, not here. You have
to go out and wait outside.” We were lucky we were not handcuffed. Hahaha!
Outside, it was drizzling and a bit cold but tolerable. About 3:30
p.m., the two vans parked by the back door in front of us left. We got excited, because obviously the drivers were already picking up New Order members from the hotel they were billeted.
Our strategy and patience paid off!
Around 4, one of the vans came back and parked again in front of us—Stephen Morris, Gillian
Gilbert, Phil Cunningham, and Tom Chapman got out of the door!
I, flanked by New Order's Tom Chapman (bass) and Phil Cunningham (guitar/keyboards/percussion)
While the other fans immediately milled around Morris and Gilbert,
having their vinyl records autographed by the couple, Inna and I approached the
ignored Chapman and Cunningham. Pictures
with them and a little chat, and they went inside already without waiting for
the other fans who were too busy with The Other Two. When the fans finished having
their autographs, we immediately approached Gilbert and Morris for our turn for
I and Inna with New Order's Stephen Morris (drums/synthesizer/percussion) and Gillian Gilbert (keyboards); the husband and wife were also the duo known as The Other Two, which released two studio albums in the 1990s, The Other Two & You (1993) and Super Highways (1999).
Many music listeners do not know that the duo comprising The Other Two, which became popular for the hit single "Selfish," were actually New Order's Stephen Morris and Gillian Gilbert.
I with Stephen Morris and with Gillian Gilbert of New Order and The Other Two
Gillian and Inna—The Other Halves
After about 30 minutes, the other van arrived—with Bernard Sumner in
it. He seemed in hurry, so I approached him right away and asked to sign my Republic
(1993) and Electronic
(1991) albums. I did not bring my other CDs; I’m not a
big fan of autographs anyway; I’m more interested in having pictures of myself with
Inna and I with New Order's frontman, Bernard Sumner (vocals, guitar, melodion, keyboards), who is a member also of the New Wave bands Electronic and Bad Lieutenant
Many New Wave fans are stuck in the '80s, failing to realize and acknowledge that the genre has become ongoing; they seem to lack the ability to appreciate the music such artists produced in the ensuing decades. All they know are the old hits. For instance, apart from being a member of New Order, Sumner was also a founding member of another New Wave band, Electronic, which was formed in the 1990s and featured also Johnny Marr of The Smiths, Neil Tennant of Pet Shop Boys, and Karl Bartos of Kraftwerk.
This is my favorite song from Electronic, "For You," a single off the group's second album, Raise the Pressure (1996).
New Order's Bernard Sumner, Phil Cunningham, Tom Chapman, and Stephen Morris are also members of the New Wave band Bad Lieutenant, formed by Sumner in 2007 after the second breakup of New Order. Bad Lieutenant still carried the style of New Wave music.
This is my favorite song from Bad Lieutenant, "Sink or Swim," a single off the band's only album, Never Cry Another Tear (2009)
We left Sony Centre for the Performing Arts very happy and contented—our
mission for our trip to Toronto was half-accomplished! We met all the members
of New Order and had pictures with them taken because of resourcefulness,
patience, good interpersonal skills, confidence, strategy, and of course, tips
Meeting My Friend Andy Gutierrez
of Feet like Fins
After the encounter with New Order at Sony Centre for the Performing Arts, we took a taxicab from the venue back to Toronto
—$14—about 10-minute drive. We had to meet up with an old
friend of mine, Andy Gutierrez, the bass player of the ’90s Philippine
Alternative Rock band Feet like Fins. He has been living in Ontario, Canada,
since the late ’90s, particularly in the city of Scarborough (near Markham).
The last time we saw each other was around 1993, when his band Feet like Fins
was active in the music scene and I was a regular of the legendary spots like Mayric’s
and Club Dredd, where Andy and his band and my own band Half Life Half Death used
Feet like Fins’ guitar player Eric Magno lives also in Ontario (since
1996), though a bit far from Toronto; Andy called him on the phone to maybe
meet up with us; he couldn’t go out; he was babysitting his kids; I just said
hi to him on the phone.
Andy and I first met each other in 1988, when we were both students at
University of Santo Tomas; we used to see each other every Sunday, during the
weekly ROTC (Philippine Reserve Officer Training Corps [ROTC], a military
program for college students in the Philippines). At the time, he was a member
of a band known as Veils of the Miraculous, while I was already with my band
Half Life Half Death.
Andy, Inna, and I had dinner at the foodcourt of Eaton Centre; despite
the limited time, Andy and I got to catch up with each other’s stories and personal
lives especially in Canada. Afterwards, Andy accompanied us to a record store
named Vortex—about 10 minutes’ drive from Eaton Centre. Luckily the store was
still open, for it was already almost 9 p.m.
I hurriedly rummaged through the
stacks of vinyl records—I ended up purchasing about a dozen albums, which
included This Is the Sea
The Waterboys, Midnight to Midnight
by The Psychedelic Furs, Arias &
(1982) by Spoons, Thriller
(1982) by Michael Jackson, 12 Original
(1982) by Bow Wow Wow, and God’s
(1986) by The Mission.
Andy dropped us off at a subway station around 9:30 p.m.; Inna and I boarded
a train to Islington Station (about 30 minutes away), where we took Bus #34 to
Oscar Peterson Boulevard in Mississauga (45 minutes) until we reached the house
of Inna's friend Mistah and her family, where we spent our first night.
Inna's friend Mistah, who lives in Mississauga, Ontario, invited us to spend an evening at her family's lovely home.
The lovely home of Mistah and her family
Unfortunately Inna missed the call of our friend Jessel, who was contacting
us at around 8:30 to let us know that Elephant Stone was playing a free gig at
Horseshoe Tavern in Downtown Toronto that very night. Too bad; we missed the
show and photo opportunity. Elephant Stone is a Québec-based Canadian Indie
Rock band; it released its debut album, The
, in 2009.
Every time I visit Toronto, I never fail to meet up with my friend Jessel, who always took me around to the wonderful books-, toys-, and music stores in Toronto. Jessel himself is a humble owner of thousands of books, toys, and records both in CD and vinyl formats.
Too bad, we missed the free gig of the Canadian Indie Rock band Elephant Stone in Downtown Toronto when we were there. My favorite song from this band is “I Am Blind.”
Next blog...DAY TWO of our "Three-Day Trip to Toronto..."