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Hippiefest - Toronto - Molson Amp.


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Molson Amphitheatre, Toronto - July 25, 2007

By JASON MACNEIL -- Sun Media

TORONTO -- The Hippie era is four decades old, and while the term Woodstock is known as much for Snoopy's pal in the Peanuts cartoon as it is the cornerstone rock festival, fans last night at Toronto's Molson Amphitheatre went down a musical memory lane for Hippiefest.

Hippiefest, conjured up last year, made the maiden stop of its 2007 summer North American tour last night before a few thousand fans. And while the tie-dyed shirts and body paint was thankfully kept to a bare minimum, it appeared that many of the crowd came for '60s pop band The Turtles.

The combination of lead singers Flo and Eddie were as much schtick as they were singers during their set of a handful of tunes. Beginning with You Baby, the group told the audience of primarily baby boomers how happy they were to be here. "It's great to be anywhere when you're 60 years old," they quipped. "It's great to wake up."

From there, The Turtles threw a bit of a curveball by going back to music they did with the late Frank Zappa, including working in a portion of Zappa's classic Peaches En Regalia. It might have been a good idea, but sank like a stone. Nonetheless the band dished out a chippy cover of Bob Dylan's It Ain't Me Babe.

But like everyone else on the bill who performed four to six songs and then left, The Turtles stuck to tunes fans paid to see, including a rather rousing Happy Together which they have performed literally thousands of times with the same reaction.

Much like the later acts, The Turtles came with their own band. Yet nothing they did seemed to outdo the musicianship and performance from British group The Zombies who were anything but zombies. Backed by seasoned musicians, the tandem of keyboardist Rod Argent and singer Colin Blunstone dazzled the crowd with the loungey psychedelic Time of the Season.

While that is one of their bigger numbers, the high point of the evening came during the catchy Hold Your Head Up which had many on their feet. The group finished with She's Not There and Blunstone was quite capable of hitting the higher notes.

Perhaps the biggest drawback to the show was that as tight as the later groups were, the earlier performers seemed to be a hit and miss affair, mainly because of a house band who were still getting used to the material. A good example of this was with The Rascals fronted by singer Felix Cavaliere. The group were quite good despite being plagued initially by keyboard problems. Nonetheless, songs like Groovin' and Good Lovin' had the desired response.

This was head and shoulders above the brief set by Mitch Ryder. Ryder doled out Jenny Take a Ride and Sock it to me Baby but his voice wasn't the best. Also, the joke he told about a dwarf didn't seem to go over too well with the dwarf sitting in an adjacent section.

Also on hand was Country Joe McDonald who acted as emcee for the early portion but seemed a bit lost at times. And while Mountain closed out the night with hits like Mississippi Queen, they got much the same reaction as show openers Badfinger who performed Come and Get It and I Want You.

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From there, The Turtles threw a bit of a curveball by going back to music they did with the late Frank Zappa, including working in a portion of Zappa's classic Peaches En Regalia.

I'm pretty sure the writer should of done some homework since those two lunatics joined Zappa after Peaches.

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