Photography & Words By: Adam R. Harrison
Attention Attention: Rock n’ roll giants, Shinedown, make first appearance in Toronto in over six years with explosive, ear-ringing, and heartfelt performance at Echo Beach. The sun glimmered over the picturesque outdoor venue. Our toes were in the sand whilst our fists were in the air as the Floridian hard rockers who jammed, jumped, serenaded, and ignited the Canadian crowd in promotion of their sixth studio album, Attention Attention.
An impressive lineup of opening bands more than returned your investment for the cost of admission. English rockers, Broken Hands, and post-grunge rising starts, Dinosaur Pile-Up, set the raucous tone early. If our feet weren’t baking in the sand, you could have imagined you were transported to the British equivalent of a basement rock session. L.A. upstart Badflower cleaned up the opening sets, hot off the release of their debut album, OK, I’m Sick, for what was their very first appearance in Canada. Spotify pleasers like “Heroin” and “Ghost” left a standing impression with the audience wanting some more of the Flower.
If there was a roof, it would have been blown to smithereens as soon as Shinedown opened their set with “Devil,” the opening track to Attention Attention. As good ol’ JR would say, “It was hell, fire, and brimstone!” as several explosions and pyrotechnics erupted from the stage going into the first chorus line, “’Cause it’s about to get heavy”… It certainly is!
The 105-minute set continued with fist pounders and radio hits like “Diamond Eyes (Boom-Lay Boom-Lay Boom),” “Bully,” and the latest single “Monster.” The highlight of the first half of the show was during Shinedown’s very first hit “45,” dating back to 2003 and still includes one of the best performances by lead singer, Brent Smith, in their entire catalogue.
Midway through the set, Shinedown took to four mini-stages spread throughout the crowd for a (slightly) stripped down four-song mini-set. Fan favourites like “If You Only Knew” and “Second Chance” allowed the audience to participate along with the band in what felt like a much more intimate setting. It also gave the band the opportunity to banter a bit, but not before congratulating the city on their recent NBA championship. “Thank you for welcoming my friend, Marc Gasol, like only you would, Toronto,” claimed guitarist, Zach Myers.
Upon returning to the main stage for the final stretch of the night, Shinedown surprised us with a nifty little cover of Ottis Redding’s “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” before transitioning into their impressive cover of Lynyrd Skynryd’s “Simple Man,” again showing off the punch of Smith’s vocal prowess.
A few more crowd-pleasers like “Cut the Cord” and “Sound of Madness” graced our ears before the uplifting set (and album) finale “Brilliant.” It was clear Toronto was thirsty for Shinedown after being deprived of them for so long. But the band promised our next reunion wouldn’t be so prolonged. Until next time… Leave a whisper 😉