SVEN GALI MAKE TRIUMPHANT RETURN TO TORONTO TWO DECADES LATER
Date: November 30, 2018
Venue: The Rockpile
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Canadian early ’90s “hair metal” rockers Sven Gali continued their 2018 Unfinished Business Tour in late November / early December with two tour stops — one at The Rockpile in Toronto, Ontario, Canada and one the next night at Chips n’ Charlie’s in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada. This would be my third time seeing Sven Gali play this year after their first two shows of their comeback tour earlier this summer at Norma Jeans in London, Ontario and at This Ain’t Hollywood in Hamilton, Ontario. In the days leading up to the Toronto show, I noticed that the Facebook postings indicated that the gig was now sold out so I was grateful that Jon Asher of Asher Media Relations had gotten me on the guest list (thank you Jon) for Sven Gali‘s Toronto stop as I would have likely been turned away at the door with my bad habit of just getting a ticket at the door on the day of the concert.
The Toronto show was billed as a Rock And Roll Heaven Reunion which was to celebrate the now defunct Toronto venue Rock And Roll Heaven, which shut its doors back in February 1992, and its now much older patrons, many of which who would likely be making their way to The Rockpile for Sven Gali‘s first Toronto show in reportedly 25 years. The place was packed by the time I arrived for the last song of the last opening act Rustic. I wish I had more time to check out all the opening bands like I used to do even five years ago but I just have too many responsibilities with “dependents” (children) to do that. Nevertheless, I was glad to be able to sneak out and catch Sven Gali‘s set, which turned out to be my favorite show from them out of the three that I saw this year.
Sven Gali are interesting because it really feels like they have two sides. First, there is their “hair metal” side, which spawned the very good self-titled debut album in 1992 and for which the band likely still owes its musical career to. Second, there is their “grunge” side which spawned their “grungier” and less successful sophomore album Inwire in 1995. I got the distinct impression from Sven Gali during their Toronto stop that they actually like their songs from Inwire more than the ones from their self-titled album. Sven Gali frontman Dave Wanless pointed out to the audience at one point that the band was about to play one of his favorite tracks from the group, which turned out to be the single “Keeps Me Down” from Inwire. Sven Gali also played the song “Hurt” which never made it onto their second album but remains one of their favorites to play. Even Sven Gali‘s new single “Kill The Lies” seems much closer to the songs from their Inwire era than their “hair metal” / self-titled debut album era. I might be wrong with my assessment but time will tell as it seems that the group is quietly gearing up to releasing some sort of EP or album in the future. I say that because the band finished off its set with an unreleased and never before played track from its Inwire days called “Now.” Accordingly, Sven Gali have at least three songs (“Kill The Lies,” “Hurt” and “Now”) that they could put on an EP or album in the future.
Even though I suspect that Sven Gali prefer their grungier tunes, they knew full well what got them to the party as they played nine songs out of twelve from their self-titled debut album. Songs from that record definitely and not surprisingly got the best reaction from the Rockpile crowd. Sven Gali kicked off their set with a double shot from their debut album. “Disgusteen” and “Freakz” had the crowd going from the get go. In fact, it felt like an old school ’80s metal concert due to two enthusiastic long-haired middle aged gentlemen who headbanged profusely and sang along loudly to just about every song, and in particular tracks from the debut album. The duo were so noticeable that even singer Dave Wanless couldn’t help but give a big handshake to each man before asking if them if they had started drinking at Noon! I believe that one of the men asked Wanless at what time that he had started drinking to which Wanless jokingly replied that if he started drinking at Noon these days, he’d be in bed by 7:00 pm.
Wanless was in fine form addressing the crowd pretty much between each song from pointing out that it had been 25 years or so) since Sven Gali last played in Toronto to reminiscing about the band’s recording experience in Seattle, Washington, USA for its second album. For the latter, Wanless pointed out that it was a crazy time in Seattle as acid could be bought at a corner convenience store. Wanless joked that it was a simpler time when the Sven Gali band members would wake up and try to get some breakfast, have band practice, smoke a joint and then write some songs. The Toronto crowd was quite engaged and original Sven Gali guitarist Andy Frank even got some “Andy, Andy, Andy” chants from an enthusiastic portion of the audience. Wanless joked to Frank that was because he had come from China or something to that effect. I’m not sure what Frank is up to these days but Wikipedia does indicate that he ended up working in China starting in 2005.
The highlights of Sven Gali‘s main set for me were the songs “Disgusteen,” “Here Today, Gone Tomorrow” and “Under The Influence.” I concede that all three tracks are some of the faster paced Sven Gali songs so you likely can figure out my preference in terms of Sven Gali material. I say “main set” because I was not expecting Sven Gali to come back and play not one, not two but three encores. The setlist posted on the stage only had the songs listed for the main set and since Sven Gali had closed their set with “Under The Influence” back in Hamilton during the summer, I thought that this would also be the case on this evening. Sven Gali‘s first encore was a spirited cover of Jane’s Addiction‘s “Mountain Man” song. Next up was “Stiff Competition” which Wanless introduced as the first Sven Gali song that was played on the radio after the band entered the track in some sort of radio competition. I really thought that the band was done for the night after “Stiff Competition” but the audience was treated to one more, which turned out to be the unreleased and never played song “Now.”
Overall, Sven Gali put on a great show for their Toronto faithful and I really hope that the band will be working on a few extra songs to at least release an EP in the future that would include “Hurt,” “Now” and “Kill The Lies.”
Sven Gali’s setlist:
04. Here In My Garden
05. Love Don’t Live Here Anymore
06. Keeps Me Down
07. What You Give
08. Here Today, Gone Tomorrow
09. Sweet Little Gypsy
10. Kill The Lies
11. Tie Dyed Skies
12. Under The Influence
13. Mountain Song (Jane’s Addiction cover)
14. Stiff Competition
Sven Gali performing “Disgusteen” live at The Rockpile in Toronto, Ontario, Canada on November 30, 2018:
SVEN GALI @ SVEN GALI @Rockpile – Rock and Roll Heaven Reunion Bash