Some band called The Eagles was playing Rogers Arena in Vancouver on September 6th, but as good as those guys are, I was quite happy to be at The Cellar on Granville Street this particular Friday night. Down the stairs, on the small stage below the brick-lined vaults and dark wood paneling, local band Aviator Shades took to the stage around 10 pm and proceeded to blow the roof off the venue. They roared out of the gate with the hard-rocking “Ready To Blow”, kicking off a blistering set of hard, fast and genuine rock’n’roll.
It was my first time seeing the band live after listening to their tunes online and following them on social media over the last year, and I was definitely not disappointed. From what I’d already heard, I knew that this band was really good, but whatever expectations I had were exceeded and then some. On stage the band elevated every tune to another level, playing with that combination of seemingly reckless abandon and formidable control and confidence that is the hallmark of a truly tight band.
The set included tunes I’d already come to love, including “Chasing Sunsets”, and “Doin’ Alright”, plus a whack of tunes I’d never heard before. The super hooky “Who Do You Think You Are?” got my attention for sure – I hadn’t heard the track before, but it’s still stuck in my head several days later. After that the band went all-out Thin Lizzy with a sweet cover of “Emerald” (indicating the band’s strong and deep classic hard rock roots, as well as singer Dave Gorman’s Irishness), before launching into “Heartbeat From Heaven”, a very groovy and catchy tune that will also be on the band’s upcoming EP.
With a packed dance floor in front of the stage, the crowd was into the show from the get-go, and it’s obvious Aviator Shades has built up a local following – and why not? Judging by what I saw, this is a band that enjoys being on stage, that connects with the audience, and that performs with an infectious joy and energy from start to finish.
Dynamic front-man Dave Gorman, with a power-house voice and a bass to back it up with, gives the band some great stage-presence. Contributing to the band’s stage-appeal are the two lead guitarists – George Baker and Shaun Michael Thackeray – trading some fiery riffs and taking turns with the solos, singing backing vocals, and generally looking as though they were having a grand ol’ time. Add long-haired drummer Cody Williamson, who was hitting the skins so hard I was pretty sure wooden splinters were going to be flying into the audience, and you have the makings of one heck of a rock-machine.
After a very entertaining, high-octane set with a lot of heart, soul, sweat, and rock’n’roll, the guys wrapped things up with a rollicking rendition of Neil Young’s “Keep On Rocking In the Free World”, leaving the crowd happy, but wanting more.
In short, Aviator Shades is a band that puts on one hell of a show. Go see them ASAP if you can, and if you can’t, give their tunes a spin online.
Edit: Aviator Shades’ EP “Ready To Blow” is out now. Check out the band’s website for info!
Aviator Shades’ set-list:
1. Ready To Blow
2. Doin’ Alright
3. Who Do You Think You Are?
4. Emerald (Thin Lizzy cover)
5. Heartbeat From Heaven
6. Chasing Sunsets
7. Is There Anybody Out There?
8. Eye Of The Storm
9. Slice Of Your Pie
10. Rockin’ In The Free World (Neil Young cover)
(Previously posted at Hard Rock Nights.)