Update: On Tuesday (August 8), Peterborough Musicfest announced the Glass Tiger with Monowhales concert has been postponed until Thursday, August 17th as Glass Tiger’s lead singer Alan Trew is recovering from a throat infection. There will not be a Peterborough Musicfest show on Wednesday, August 9th.
Those of us ‘mature’ enough may recall that it was Glass Tiger this and Glass Tiger that over a five-year stretch that commenced in 1986 and carried over into the next decade. It was near impossible to not hear, at any time, any one of the pop-rock band’s hits on your favourite Top 40 radio station, not see one of its dance videos on MuchMusic or MTV, or not be greeted by their faces on a record store poster.
On the strength of three back-to-back-to-back monster albums during that period, Glass Tiger was a major player on the Canadian pop-rock music landscape and, to a considerable degree, south of the border as well. Now, some 30 years since those heady years, Glass Tiger’s collective talent and music remains as fresh as the day it was first recorded.
Wednesday (August 9) Thursday, August 17th, full proof of Glass Tiger’s decades-long staying power will be clear as the Alan Frew-fronted band headlines Peterborough Musicfest, 15 years after first its first appearance at Del Crary Park. Admission to the 8 p.m. concert, with Toronto alt-rockers Monowhales opening, is free.
Formed in Newmarket in 1983, Glass Tiger didn’t take long to make its mark, releasing its debut album Thin Fred Line three years later. That album, on the strength of the hit singles “Don’t Forget Me (When I’m Gone),” “Someday,” and the title track, was certified quadruple platinum in Canada and gold in the United States.
If that success right off the hop wasn’t enough, Frew and his bandmates left the 1986 Juno Awards presentation with three statues for Album of the Year, Best Selling Single (for “Don’t Forget Me (When I’m Gone”), and Most Promising Group of the Year. In addition to that impressive haul, the album’s producer, Jim Vallance, won a Juno for Composer of the Year.
In 1988, Glass Tiger lived up to the Junos’ ‘promising’ tag in the form of the album Diamond Sun. The album was certified triple platinum in Canada with the single “I’m Still Searching” peaking at number two on the charts.
VIDEO: “Someday” – Glass Tiger
Between the two albums came more acclaim from the Juno Award judges in 1987, with Glass Tiger winning Single of the Year (for “Someday”) and Canadian Entertainer of the Year honours. South of the border, tours opening for Journey and Tina Turner brought the band a whole new legion of fans.
Back in the studio, Glass Tiger completed the career-opening trifecta in 1991, recording and releasing the album Simple Mission. Certified platinum in Canada, among its four singles was “My Town,” which featured Rod Stewart as a guest vocalist and soared to become Glass Tiger’s sixth Top 10 Canadian hit. Of note, the town referred to lyrically is Frew’s birth home of Coatbridge, Scotland.
The years that followed saw some lengthy hiatuses by the band and the usual in-and-out-and-back-in personnel changes. It wasn’t until 2018 that new music came forth in the form of the album 31, which was followed in 2019 and 2020 by 33 and Songs For A Winter’s Night (featuring Natalie MacMaster among others) respectively.
While those albums didn’t achieve the remarkable commercial success of their predecessors, they kept Glass Tiger in the game, with plenty of gigs opportunities to choose from. Just this past February, Glass Tiger ran through its catalogue before a sold-out Showplace Performance Centre in Peterborough.
In an interview originally published in 2010 on the now-retired on Kickin’ it Old School blog and republished in 2020 on Rediscover the ’80s, Frew noted he took up the guitar in the 1970s and discovered he had “a knack” for the songwriting side of things. He also reflected on how “Don’t Forget Me” (When I’m Gone) was a game changer for the band.
“I knew it was a great with all the elements of a hit but you’re never prepared for it to go through the roof as it did,” Frew recalled. “It put us in the big leagues and brought us (into) the homes of millions all over the world.”
VIDEO: “Don’t Forget Me (When I’m Gone)” – Glass Tiger
Addressing the fact that many 1980s pop-rock sensations have gone long silent, Frew says Glass Tiger has made the choice to embrace that time and keep it alive for both longtime and new fans of the band, but keeps things in perspective in the process.
“It stays alive simply through our music but that’s it. The ’80s were then and this is now. Looking back is no different than looking at old photographs or yearbooks. You look, you cringe, you laugh, you move on.”
Asked how he keeps his passion for making and performing music all these years on, Frew noted “I love the craft of communicating.”
“I adapt and re-adapt to change consistently and continuously which allows me a fresh approach to my career each and every day.”
VIDEO: “This Is Your Life” – Glass Tiger
That Frew, now 66, is still doing his thing is no small miracle. He had a stroke in 2015, from which he has fully recovered, that came after he suffered a detached retina.
And less than two weeks before embarking on a 2019 tour with Corey Hart, Frew became violently ill, got dizzy and fell, and broke his neck in two places. He underwent surgery six days before the tour started and didn’t miss a beat.
Anyone looking to better understand Glass Tiger’s staying power would do very well to look no further than the determination of the band’s lead singer.
Formed in 2017, Toronto-based Monowhales has earned its place as one of the most exciting alt-rock bands in Canada, with multiple top 10 singles, millions of streams, and countless shows to its credit.
The recipient of a 2022 Juno Award for Breakthrough Group of the Year, the Sally Shaar-led trio has lived up to expectations and then some.
Back in 2019, Monowhales’ breakout single “RWLYD (Really Wanna Let You Down)” made history, charting at number two on the Mediabase Canada Alternative Rock Chart — the only independent, self-managed band to attain that ranking.
During the pandemic, Monowhales didn’t miss a beat, releasing the top 10 singles “All Or Nothing” and “Out With The Old” prior to the March 2021 release of its debut album Daytona Beach.
Having just completed a national tour in support of Mother Mother, Monowhales is enjoying continued success with its latest single “CTRL^^^” from its February 2022 album Tunnel Vision.
The Peterborough Musicfest audience can also expect to hear the band’s new single “Hear Me Out,” which drops on August 17.
VIDEO: “RWLYD (Really Wanna Let You Down)” – Monowhales
Overseen by general manager Tracey Randall and staff, a board of directors, and numerous volunteers, Peterborough Musicfest’s stated mission remains “to provide diverse, affordable live music to enrich cultural and economic prosperity in our community.”
For more information on this concert and the entire 2023 season, visit www.ptbomusicfest.ca or phone the Peterborough Musicfest office at 705-755-1111.
kawarthaNOW is proud to be a headline sponsor of Peterborough Musicfest’s 2023 season.