Jim Cuddy Band @ Massey Hall

What better way to spend Valentine’s Day than with Canadian icon Jim Cuddy and his pal and fellow Canadian rock star Barney Bentall playing at Massey Hall in a show full of surprises.

Bentall kicked things off with a low-key set featuring stripped down versions of songs like “Something to Live For”. For the most part, it was just him and two violinists on stage – “nothing says Valentine’s Day like a string section,” he quipped – but he did “up the ante” by bringing an accordionist to perform during a song. His son Dustin Bentall, a musician himself, also made a guest appearance. Surprisingly, this was the elder Bentall’s first time playing Massey Hall, with the younger Bentall having opened for Blue Rodeo before. Dustin brought this up humourously, saying “don’t screw this up” before the duo launched into a song.

The eternally affable Jim Cuddy is touring in support of his latest album Constellation, though he only ended up playing half of it. “I know that when an artist says they’re going to play their new record the audience cheers but is secretly dreading it,” he joked, “so I’ll play half and then we’ll do something else.” The crowd was all about the new material, however, particularly the heartfelt title track and the emotional true story behind it. 

The remainder of the evening was a collection of older Cuddy songs, Blue Rodeo tracks, and songs by two of his sons (Sam Polley and Devin Cuddy) who were also invited onto the stage. Barney and Dustin Bentall also made some return trips for quite a few songs, like the Blue Rodeo hit “Bad Timing”.

An evening full of great tunes and lots of laughs – who could ask for more?

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