I’ve had the opportunity to see the band live a couple times in the past several years, and on both of those occasions Zach Havens (vocals,piano, primary songwriter) allowed me to interview him for my radio show. The first time I heard To Tell, I knew I had stumbled onto a piano-driven brand of pop-rock that I haven’t heard anywhere else before. I still haven’t come across a band that compares to this style.
Last Friday night To Tell played their final show in their hometown, London, Ontario. The audience varied in age from the smallest child in arms, to the other end of the spectrum, the grey-haired crowd that preferred to pull up a chair near the back. Friends, family, and fans were buzzing with excitement in the minutes before the show.
Between opening acts, the four guys came onstage as “unofficial MC’s for the night” to answer questions from the audience. Their Q&A answered inquiries like “why is the band breaking up?” and “what is your most memorable screw up on stage?” It was a really fun and informal time of the band interacting with the audience and it gave the feeling of the whole room as just a gang of friends hanging out on a Friday night. Among stories of memorable screw ups was a time that Nate busted out his guitar solo after the wrong verse in “Down and Out.” Another story told about Justyn messing up the ending of a song during his first ever live performance with To Tell.
Later on during the show, as these songs were played we in the audience took special notice of them, and the band would mention other things that were brought up in the Q&A time. This felt like the audience was included in these inside jokes and we were able to share in some laughs with the band.
Clearly these guys are all good friends and were going to make the most out of their last chance to appear live as this band. Only the second song into their set, a couple friends from the opening acts ran onstage and unleashed dozens of massive colourful balloons into the crowd that were bounced around during the rest of the show. All through evening the band was making faces and joking around with each other, and it was just so much fun watch. All the fun and the good times didn’t distract from the music, though. These are four talented dudes who are seasoned performers, and each member pulled through to flawlessly power through each song with a contagious smile and energy.
To Tell busted out all the radio hits, and many crowd favourites. I swear, they must have played through most of their recorded catalogue, as we heard everything from “All I Need To Lose,” up to “In Your Eyes” and even their most recent song, not even on a record, “Only in Love.”
Zach frequently looked over to catch the eye of his adoring wife in the crowd, and gave her a couple shout outs, as she is the lucky woman for whom most of his songs were written.
I was amazed when they pulled out a few songs that they’ve never played before live. To hear “And You Still Call Me” and “Change Me Now” both live were some of the most memorable moments from the night. To see them pull out such musically challenging song and powerful songs was such a wicked cool experience. During “Change Me Now” I looked around the venue and saw that the whole audience had become very silent. All eyes were glued on the four men on stage, each person taking in every note, feeling each beat.
That’s the perfect kind of send-off to a band that has written such catchy songs that have resonated with so many people; a couple hundred people who dearly love this band, soaking in each moment of their last opportunity to see their passion on stage and to hear these songs live.
To many a smile and cheer, To Tell stepped back on stage for a final encore. Wes was the first back on stage, climbing in behind the drum kit to rip out a super fun solo that got the audience pumped. His drum solo included tossing rolled up t-shirts out into the crowd as he continued to play. So cool.
The final song of the night was “Safe to Say” – I think everyone in the room knew all of the words, and probably felt even more of an understanding of the song as Zach had explained it’s meaning earlier in the night. Their final song brought down the house, and was the perfect closer to a perfect final show.
I don’t know if the future holds new musical projects for these guys, but I’m so thankful for their efforts in To Tell. They’re a band that will continue on as one of my very favourites for a long, long time.
Friday’s show was a memorable celebration with To Tell, and, I guess it’s Safe to Say, they did not go quietly…