Live Review: Amanda Marshall @ Massey Hall, Toronto June 16 & 17 2023

Live Review: Amanda Marshall @ Massey Hall, Toronto June 16th 2023

“Whatever happened to Amanda Marshall?” Was a phrase I have uttered to friends over the years whenever a song of hers randomly came on the radio, or I happened to be listening to her CD while driving around in my car. I think many wondered the same thing as it seemed after the early 2000’s she simply dropped off the face of the planet. Where did she go? Why did she go? Will we ever hear another album or even a single? Will she ever even perform again?

In my mind, after all the radio silence (pun intended, but not), I had concluded that she merely retired; maybe she was tired of a career that involved being in the public eye and perhaps wanted to live a regular life. I am happy that I was wrong and her return to music has been one of the greatest surprises ever. After 23 years off the radar, Amanda Marshall has returned with a brand new album (Heavy Lifting) and tour (25 & Counting: The Heavy Lifting Tour) She graced us with her presence for two nights on her tour to perform for her hometown of Toronto on Friday and Saturday evening and it appeared to be the ultimate comeback. I can honestly say that I never thought I would see the day where I’d be attending a live Amanda Marshall concert, especially her hometown show. What a treat.

The patrons of Massey Hall were buzzing with excitement at what I’m sure had been a highly long and anticipated of her return to the stage, especially from locals who likely followed her career from the very beginning. I myself, remember hearing “If I Didn’t Have You” for the first time when she performed it on Canada A.M. in 1998/99. I was likely eating cereal before heading to middle school for the day. 

After a set played by her opener, the very talented Sophia Fracassi, Amanda took to the stage with her classic “Let It Rain,” in which the audience applauded as a sort of “Welcome home, we missed you Amanda!” kind of greeting. This was a great opportunity for the us to reminisce and be taken back to the 90’s before she introduced us to a few songs from her current album and then returning to the classics. She paid tribute to both the late Gordon Lightfoot and Tina Turner during her 6th and 12th songs (see setlist below) but perhaps the most powerful and moving performances of the evening came when she sang “If I Didn’t Have You,” and “Beautiful Goodbye,” perhaps her biggest power ballads, which brought almost the entire audience to their feet, belting along as loud as their vocals would allow. I admit, tears came to my eyes during both songs, especially “Beautiful Goodbye.” That song is so haunting, while beautiful at the same time. The studio recordings almost doesn’t do her voice justice once hearing them performed live.

Photo Credit: Karine Hankinson

Everything from the band’s acoustics, to her talented back-up singers, to the stage lights were pure perfection. Standing at just 5’5 she displayed her hometown pride by wearing a “Toronto for Life” tank top and rocked what I referred to as her “glitter pants” that shimmered along with the ever changing colours of the stage lights and served as a fun party trick. This tiny woman is a vocal powerhouse who gave an absolute electric performance throughout the entire evening and never lost audience engagement for a second. She recalled her very first performance at Massey Hall when she was only 17 years of age and cried because she did not know how to put on make-up. Luckily, her dear mother came to her rescue and showed her what’s what. Amanda’s spirit, independence, open-mind and feminist attitude are reflected in much of her songwriting, both in her lyrics and the uplifting melodies that come along with them. We were lucky enough to have not one, but two encore songs, the last being the very fun and humorous “Sunday Morning After” which once again, had audience members standing on their feet singing away. 

I can honestly say that hers was one of the best live performances I have experienced to date. One would think taking such a lengthy break from the spotlight would lead to a rusty comeback, but Amanda Marshall is a force of nature. Halfway through the show, she stated, “We have a lot of show left Toronto.” I hope this is true, and it appears that her career has been officially resurrected. Welcome home and welcome back to the stage, Amanda! 

P.S. Let me know where I can get a pair of “glitter pants.”

Setlist

Let It Rain
I’m Not Drunk
I Hope She Cheats
Fall From Grace
If I Didn’t Have You
Last Exit to Eden / Sunshine
Rainbows in Gasoline
Sitting on Top of the World
Beautiful Goodbye
Marry Me
Angel from Montgomery 
Trust Me (This is Love) / What’s Love Got To Do With It
Dark Horse
Birmingham / Everybody’s Got a Story / Run The World

Encore
———
Believe In You
Sunday Morning After

For upcoming dates for 25 & Counting: The Heavy Lifting Tour – Find Amanda Marshall Tickets!

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