Back on June 28, 2019, I was at the Gothic Theater in Denver, waiting to see my current favorite band the Struts perform, and had invited my sister and her boyfriend to join me. As the crowd was building and the opening act was preparing to come on, I started talking with two people next to me. They indicated that they were there primarily to see the opening act, a band I had never heard of before, a band from Canada known as the Glorious Sons. I viewed that as a positive sign and prepared to rock.
Opening acts are an interesting phenomenon all on their own, and today’s selection and blog are dedicated to all opening acts. We usually aren’t there to see them, and the range of support they get goes from rejection to disinterest to mild applause to the occasional home run. I know I have witnessed all of these moments at a show. Back in my younger days, my friends and I (at least most of us) were pretty close-minded and impatient when it came to opening acts, unless it was some other highly established name. Over the years, among the big-name artists I have seen perform as openers include Jethro Tull, John Cougar, Def Leppard, Joan Jett, and Sheryl Crow. Some were enthusiastically welcomed, and others, like John Cougar, left the stage dodging cups and flipping off the crowd.
Thankfully with age and maturity, and reinforced by several good experiences, I try to remain much more positive about opening acts. One of my favorites was a piano player and vocalist named Chantal Kreviazuk (also Canadian) that I saw open for Five for Fighting. Two others worthy of honorably mention also surfaced when seeing the Struts. Made Violent, a punk trio from Buffalo, opened the very first Struts show I saw, and they remain a favorite to this day. You should check out “Two Tone Hair” or “Dirty”, they are great songs I’m sure you have never heard before.
At the most recent Struts show, I witnessed something I had never seen before. Not only did Nick Perri put on a stellar show as the opening act, but he also actually filled in for Adam Slack when the Struts performed, and the band barely missed a beat. Now that is what I call impressive, and all of us appreciated that the show was able to go on.
Sometimes you just don’t get there on time. One time when I was seeing the Struts in Baltimore, my arrival was much later than I hoped, and I completely missed the opening act. I was told they were good but didn’t think much of it afterwards until someone asked me the next year if I was at the show the year before when Greta Van Fleet, who have ultimately experienced significantly more commercial success than the Struts, had opened the show. I really, really would have liked to have seen that… even though the Struts are still a better band.
Of all the opening acts I have seen, and I have seen some of the best and some of the worst, the Glorious Sons remain my all-time favorite opening act. They caught me completely by surprise the first time I saw them, with the infectious and equally hard rocking blend of songs that were instantly favorites. That type of “love at first listen” almost never happens, especially with a live track, but they had several songs that remain all-time favorites for me to this day.
I selected “Young Beauties and Fools” from 2017 as my tribute to all opening acts, as it contains my all-time favorite Glorious Sons song, “S.O.S.”. To be fair, some may be caught a bit off guard by this song in today’s world, but even as it might be a delicate subject for some, I still love it as a spot-on rock tune with a great melody and powerful drum beat that just lifts the entire crowd into a frenzy. Brett Emmons is the lead vocalist for the band, and Chris Koster, who is also unusually tall for a rock musician, is the lead guitarist in the band. Adam Paquette also stands out on this track and others with a drum tone and rhythmic burst that is exceptional on all counts.
The rest of the album, although rather short at just over 30 minutes, has several other highly listenable and enjoyable songs. “Hide My Love” is my favorite “new” discovery, and “Josie”, “Everything is Alright”, and “Thank You for Saying Goodbye” are all not only great songs, but very different from each other in their sound. The common themes are great hooks and riffs that leave you with a really favorable impression on the first listen.
My two other all-time favorite Glorious Sons tracks are from other albums but worth a mention and a listen. “Mama” is another anthemic rocker that is a great crowd sing-along, enhanced by one of my favorite riffs in modern time (man do I miss hearing more of the guitar in today’s music!), and “Closer to the Sky” is a different kind of track, more subtle in its delivery but equally enrapturing in its melody.
After that first night, I was hooked and was able to see them open for the Struts three more times in the next 6 weeks. Those shows remain some of my all-time favorites, as I truly felt like I was getting two great concerts in one. The last few years have been challenging for the band, as they make their living playing shows, mainly as a headliner across the United States, and being a Canadian act, their exile north of the border due to COVID ran for an extremely long and frustrating period of time. Thankfully, they are back on the road this summer and fall, as an opener and a headliner. If they are anywhere near where I am, I will be there, and I hope you check them out as well.