Memorable ol' time at the Wicked Memorial Variety Show
By Heidi Wicks
Spirits were high on Saturday, Aug. 11, as concert-goers from varied generations bustled into Mile One Centre for the climax of Reunion 2012 – Memorial's five-day, all-campus reunion.
Host and alumnus Mark O'Brien set an upbeat tone from the get-go, in a video featuring Dave Sullivan, Memorial's copywriter with the Division of Marketing and Communications and an alumnus as well, as a boisterous, bearded, British philosophy professor teaching the young Republic of Doyle star the history of the university in preparation for his hosting gig.
First up was the beloved and much-anticipated The Wonderful Grand Band. The boys were all back – Sandy Morris, Ron Hynes, Greg Malone, Ian Perry, Jamie Snider, Glenn Simmons and Paul "Boomer" Stamp – and from the minute they stepped onstage, audience members yelled out, "Love you, Ron!", voicing their support in the wake of the legendary performer's recent throat cancer diagnosis.
The impact of their sound was unwavering, like a splash of cold water in the face. Anyone Living in a Fog due to Mr. Hynes' illness was abruptly snapped out of it by his fresh, powerful notes. The vibe was positive and the music sounded fantastic.
Greg Malone shone in his many forms, as favourite characters (like Mavis the groupie) interrupted throughout the performance. He pranced on stage with gusto, his green and silver jacket as glittery as his antics.
"Ron, you're after givin' us some fright," he said. "You're always after attention, aren't ye?"
"I'm back on the drugs again," Mr. Hynes replied, his speech audibly affected by treatments.
"It's all legal ones now, Ron, wha?" said Mr. Malone. "Well I hope they works, 'cause we're not through with you yet."
The comment was met with a heartfelt standing ovation.
"God love ya," Mr. Hynes said quietly to the audience.
Their final number was Sonny's Dream, an unofficial anthem for Newfoundland and Labrador.
During the song, every musician from the show joined the band on stage. Hey Rosetta!, Alan Doyle, Amelia Curran, Andrew James O'Brien Band and Barry Canning carried Mr. Hynes where he needed it, giving the Man of a Thousand Songs their voices, hearts, love and support.
Despite his weakness, his vocal timbre was still strong – a sign that just maybe we aren't through with him yet.
Comedian Jonny Harris kept spirits up, though, recalling pre-cellphone and pre-chalet residence life as a theatre student at Grenfell Campus, his own undergraduate revelations on art history and what it was like to grow up in "a truly Memorial family." His father, Dr. Peter Harris, was head of the Department of Philosophy for many years and his mother worked with conference planning at the university. He and his brother are both alumni, and at the start of his first year at Grenfell the Harris's were — much to his teenage chagrin — featured on the cover of the Gazette.
The musical therapy of Andrew James O'Brien and the Searchers, Amelia Curran and Barry Canning kept the good times, tunes and tales rolling until headliners Hey Rosetta! took to the stage to close out the show.
During their set, the band announced plans to hold a benefit show on Saturday, Sept. 22, at the Bella Vista, from which proceeds will go towards creating a leadership award in memory of the Sea-Hawks women's volleyball team captain Erin Bursey, who was tragically killed while crossing Thorburn Road this past June.
The show ended with Hey Rosetta!'s A Thousand Suns as a blast of fall-coloured, tissue paper leaves fell on the appreciative audience.