Review/photos by Mike "Suicide" Santoro
Buffalo, NY - Big Wreck were formed in Boston, MA while the members of the group attended The Berklee School of Music together, and spent their first two years playing around the Boston area. They released two albums, "In Loving Memory" and "The Pleasure and the Greed," and when their second album didn't get the reception it deserved, they broke up. Vocalist Ian Thornley moved back to Canada and formed the band Thornley. Big Wreck's sophomore album wasn't well received, because it was released four years after the first, and while the band's popularity had lost some of it's momentum, the record wasn't given enough push by their label. The record industry fell in love with the 'gimmick over gift' ideology a long time ago, so it's no surprise they didn't invest in Big Wreck.
Ian Thornley is the driving force in Big Wreck, just as he was Thornley. He is an extremely talented musician and a genius at aligning himself with other talented musicians. Big Wreck is merely a vehicle, and to see Big Wreck is an experience. I suppose this is the same type of feeling Grateful Dead and Phish fans have when they're chasing butterflies into traffic. Every single time I have seen them perform live, I left in a different mental place. Friday night was no different.
I stepped into the photo pit and snapped a picture of the set list, as their tech James was taping them to the stage. I do this for the simple reason that sometimes there are bands which I cover that I legitimately don't know all of their catalog, and want to make sure my review is accurate as possible. James looked up and he said, "Ah come on man, don't cheat." The newest incarnation of Big Wreck consists of Ian Thornley, Brian Doherty, Paulo Neta, Dave McMillian and Chuck Keeping. Only Ian and Brian are original members, with the new line up essentially being (the group) Thornley, with the addition of Brian back on guitar. The combined guitar work from Ian and Brian, along with Ian's vocals, is really what give Big Wreck their signature sound. The amount of guitars they drag out on the road only solidifies this. They have multiple tuning changes throughout their set, and even within the songs themselves, for that matter.
They opened the set with "Inhale" and moved effortlessly through songs from all three of their albums. The crowd sang along to "That Song," "Wolves," "Albatross" and others, as the band weaved incredible guitar solos and melodic harmonies throughout each song. They ended their set with "The Oaf," much to the crowd's delight. This band nails every song they play, as the cohesion on stage is unmistakable and starkly obvious. They came back out for an encore and played Tears For Fears' "Shout," and then "Falling to Pieces" from the Thornley debut album.
Big Wreck is dripping with so much soul they could play Polka and the crowd would switch from drinking Vodka to Bourbon. Just go see them, buy the albums, get in your car, turn the music up, and within two songs, you will be singing along like a jackass. If you were at this show, you witnessed something great, if you missed it… shame on you.
All is Fair
Blown Wide Open
Falling To Pieces
Big Wreck will be opening for Motley Crue on their upcoming Canadian spring tour. For more info., please visit www.bigwreckmusic.com