Helix Live In Saskatoon

By Andrew Depedro, Ottawa Corespondent
Friday, December 21, 2001 @ 2:39 PM

Helix Shakes Up Earthquake Ann

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Do you have any idea how it feels being pretty much the only KNAC.COM member to never have seen Slayer live? I mean, much as I liked the new album and all, I can barely listen to their songs without being reminded about how I missed their only Saskatoon gig ever this summer with Pantera and Morbid Angel. Then came that December gig in L.A. and I was virtually shunned by everyone in the chatroom. Everybody who was anybody apparently saw Slayer live this year at least once. As usual, I only find out about Slayer gigs happening anywhere remotely near my hometown at the last minute (and surprisingly, I had just moved back to my original hometown of Ottawa, Ontario during the summer only to have found out about Slayer doing a July concert in Saskatoon. Hindsight is a wonderful thing...). Just like I found out about this concert at the last minute while wrapping up an assignment that one night....

Helix took to the stage at Earthquake Annie's at around 11pm or so. I arrived, unfortunately, about a half hour later. "Heavy Metal Love" was probably the song that they opened up with, followed by 1990's "Runnin' Wild In The 21st Century" but by the time I arrived, I was greeted with one of the best renditions of Humble Pie's "30 Days In The Hole" I've ever heard. Brian Vollmer wasn't singing on this one but one of the two guitarists was (let's call him the dark-haired dude in the plaid pants since I forgot everyone else's names except for Vollmer's) and he damn near put the late great Steve Marriott to shame. Then Brian Vollmer resumed vocal duties for "White Lace/Black Leather" and totally killed on the vocals.

Then the power went out. For almost 15 minutes.

Y'know, it wasn't fair that this happened to Helix. They have a creative longevity that spans all the way back to the mid-70s and they take pride in this, unlike some bands (Beautiful Creatures, anyone?). During the 80's and 90's they won recognition as one of Canada's most hardest-working bands for being on the road constantly. Hell, even their original guitarist Paul Hackman died on the road nearly a decade ago (and I still keep the news clipping of his death to this day) and what is their reward? Total alienation, especially from Saskatoon radio. Vollmer was good-natured about how radio here has all but dismissed Helix as irrelevant but he had his reasons. C-95 used to focus on great classic rock years ago before top-40 set in and spread like a cancer, "Metallurgy" on CFCR only focuses on black and death metal (despite being a favorite station of mine), Rock 92 -- despite having a way better setlist than C-95 has now -- has fallen into trendy wigger mallrock hell as of late (even KNAC.COM no longer cares about Linkin Park, so why should you guys?) and last summer's Rock 98 was a beggar's Hard Radio with worse music. And these are the non-country radio stations in town. Vollmer's frustration was understandable but he knew how to get the crowd all riled up about it. It was the perfect time to hand out KNAC.COM stickers to two of the band members who were waiting for their sound to get hooked back up again (it cost me a round of drinks but it was worth the publicity).

Once the sound resumed everywhere else except for Vollmer's mic, the bass player launched into a balls-out version of Tom Jones' "Delilah" and then it was back to the originals again. "Everybody Pays The Price, "Wild In The Streets, "Dream On" (not Aerosmith's or Depeche Mode's version), "Deep Cuts The Knife, "Gimme Gimme Good Lovin'" and a rambunctious version of their biggest hit "Rock You" as an encore closed Helix's set that night. As did another parting shot at Saskatoon's radio stations. Another opportunity to hand out KNAC.COM stickers after the show. This time I was greeted by Vollmer himself as I purchased a concert T-shirt from the booth. He thanked me for the stickers and told me to thank KNAC on behalf of his band for all their support. Then I bought more rounds of tequila for the bass player and guitarist before calling it a night.

For more info on the band visit their website and they'll actually have the names of the other four band members listed. Then berate me for having such a short memory before begging for this band to return to Saskatoon at least on my behalf.

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