Barry Allen and The New rebels packed a full house at The Arden Theatre on the night of Saturday, Jan. 21. The band performed what very well might be their last show, celebrating a long career in the Canadian music industry.
It was a nostalgic evening as Allen and his bandmates brought together friends, family, and devoted listeners from the 60’s and 70’s.
“It was a fun night, and it was really meaningful for me,” he says. “I think the Arden Theater is just spectacular, and the people running it make the artists feel comfortable and welcome, and they work hard. I was really proud to play there.”
The New Rebels’ music mixes roots, blues, and classic rock. Their sound plays tribute to another, bygone era, and the memorable tunes are a large reason their fans love seeing them play.
Speaking on why he performs, Allen explains that he finds great joy in bringing people together through his music. “That’s why I play music that we did back then for people that like to come and see me. They love hearing those songs and it’s fun to play them again too; you try to bring a little bit of new life into them”.
The first half of the show was comprised of a collection of Allen’s hits, including singles “Love Drops” and “Easy Come, Easy Go”. Scattered in the mix were a few Buddy Holly classics, and The Traveling Wilburys’ “Handle With Care”.
Aside from his ability to connect his audience with another era, Allen states that his great passion for music is what keeps him on stage and at the studio.
“I’m not playing to make a comeback; I’m playing because I still really enjoy playing,” he says.
Just before the show on the 21, Allen was busy at HomeStead Recorders, his audio production facility, working on the band’s’ upcoming album The Speed of Dark, which he hoped would be ready for the show. “I’ve still got a few things I need to tweak on,” says Allen, referring to the new material.
Despite its incompletion, the band still gave the audience a taste of their new album in the second set of the show on Saturday night. Allen had also debuted some of its tracks on CJSR’s The Shoebox on Wednesday prior to performing at The Arden.
As both an artist and producer, Allen is well-versed with the difficulties and rewards of creating music. He brings his knowledge into the studio when working with younger artists, and applies his experience from when he too was an aspiring performer, as a means to relating to them.
“You put them in the most comfortable position you can in the studio to bring out the best of them, and without a lot of drama, because it can be intimidating being in the studio and I know what it’s like,” he says.
Allen has had a long relationship with music, one that he hopes to continue in a casual manner as he moves into his retirement.
“I feel really fortunate because I love what I do, and I’ll just keep doing it,” says Allen. “I want to retire fairly soon, but I’d like to do something where I would still be able to work on projects that people would want to work with me on. I’d like to have a little more time to myself where I could be with my wife and my family.”
Allens’ family had gathered together to watch him play on the 21, including his grandchildren who were jumping up and down in the crowd, making the night even more special for him.
The band isn’t quite sure if this was their last show or not, as Allen leaves for Germany in the near future. However, if it was, the audience was thrilled to get the chance to celebrate their memories with them, and Allen was even more grateful to play to an enthusiastic full house.