#Rocktober Guest Post from Anne-Marie Klein

Posted: October 21, 2015 in Guest Poster, Rocktober

Let’s welcome author Anne-Marie Klein to The Rock of Pages! She’s not only a Rock Fiction lover, she puts her money where her mouth is. Which means this woman who loves the Who loves them so much, she steps out to see them play live.


Sort of.

The Wholigans formed in Toronto in 1982 as a cover band that played Keith Moon era songs by British supergroup The Who. In their heyday, they played local clubs that are now long gone, from the Gasworks to the Nag’s Head. I met them in 2003, at a local gathering of Who fans, and have been a friend and a supporter ever since. Each member of the group is a talented musician, and I can attest to the fact that the quartet is made of four very distinct yet equally colourful characters. Their shows are always lively, and much like the group they have emulated for 33 years, very loud.

I am a rock fiction writer, and in 2012 I published the first novel in a series called ‘Behind Blue Eyes.’ The books are based on the Pete Townshend song of the same name, and they tell the story of a sad blue-eyed man forming a rock band in the Toronto of the late 70s. The books combine my love of music and my hometown with a family drama and a great love story. So far, three books have been published: ‘Love Reign o’er Me,’ ‘Love Ain’t For Keeping,’ and ‘Let My Love Open the Door.’ The series will end in the new year with the fourth instalment, ‘Empty Glass.’

I am also a huge music fan, especially for the album sounds of my teenage years and young adulthood, a genre now known as classic rock. As a measure of my great affection for the Wholigans, I made them the headlining group in one of the early club scenes of the first book. Despite my knowledge of their 1982 formation, it was important for me to include them in the narrative to pay tribute to their longevity and contribution to the Toronto music scene of that era, and so I made them jump back in time and play DJ’s Tavern in 1978. Lead singer Barry Quinn confirmed to me that they did play that club a few years later than I claimed in print, so I was comfortable with the anachronism despite my insistence on maintaining historical accuracy in every other aspect of my books’ timelines.

This past weekend, The Wholigans played two dates in their hometown, despite the fact that Barry and guitarist Bill Cannell flew in from Florida and New York City, respectively. Drummer Darren Atkinson and bassist Dave ‘Gater’ Smith still reside in the city, and rounded out the lineup for the weekend shows. The special occasion was only announced a few weeks ago, and most of us were shocked to hear that Gater was retiring from the band and that we would be seeing the last of him as ‘fake John’. I could not attend the final show at the iconic Cadillac Lounge on Saturday, October 17th, having already purchased tickets to see Paul McCartney, but I did go to The Duke on Friday, October 16th, to make sure I saw the band one last time. As it happened, they were playing sets from ‘Quadrophenia’ and ‘Who’s Next’ the first night, choosing to do ‘Tommy’ and “Live at Leeds’ for the very last performance together. It was perfect: my two favourite Who albums performed at the only show I could attend.

Anne-Marie and dude

A funny thing happened on the way to the concert: the Toronto Blue Jays made the American League Baseball Championships, and a decision was made by the venue to delay the Wholigans’ first set until the game against the KC Royals was decided. Sometime during the day, a contractor accidentally cut off the cable link, and it wasn’t until after we had arrived at The Duke that the signal came back on and the game could be viewed. The delay allowed me to chat with Barry and Gater, and to meet some mutual friends.

When it was clear the Jays would not recover, well past 11pm, The Wholigans took to the stage for the first of two sets. They opened with some of the best music from ‘Quadrophenia,’ from the big hits such as ‘Love Reign o’er Me’ and ‘I’m One’ to lesser gems like “The Punk and the Godfather.’ There were classic Roger Daltrey moves from Barry like marching steps and microphone twirls, fantastic Pete Townshend windmills and jumps from Bill, and Gater reminded us all of his phenomenal bass-playing skills with his interpretation of John Entwistle’s solo from ‘5:15.’ Darren got to shine with his rendition of Keith Moon’s ‘Bellboy,’ and the very best music from my favourite Who album was delivered in grand style and with great ability.

The second set was all about ‘Who’s Next?’, and all the big songs from that classic record were thrown at the audience with equal enthusiasm and ability. The audience cheered as ‘Behind Blue Eyes,’ “Baba O’Riley,’ “Naked Eye,’ and “Won’t Get Fooled Again’ were played to near perfection. There were also nods to the earliest Who recording, as Barry asked the cheering crowd to suggest numbers: out came ‘Substitute,’ ‘Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere,’ ‘Pictures of Lily,’ ‘Boris the Spider,’ ’Squeeze Box,’ ‘My Generation,’ and even ‘Who Are You?’ as the band fed on the energy of the fans and delivered a solid performance throughout the second set. There were moments of audience participation as Barry wandered between tables and invited people to sing along, and despite the late hour, people sang, danced, and enjoyed themselves to the very last note. The show finally ended after 2 am with an encore of ‘Shaking All Over’ as people continued to dance before the stage. All in all, a wonderful night of seeing old friends do what they have done so well for so long, and the end of an era. Happy retirement, Gater, and long live rock.

Isn’t Anne-Marie great? Pick up her books and connect with her, why don’t you?


Links to Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, B&N Nook (ebooks), and Lulu (print)


  1. Anne-Marie says:

    Ha ha, I also step out to watch The Who, and in fact would have done so last Monday night had Roger not contracted meningitis recently. He’s going to fully recover and I shall hopefully be reinvested in the spring to review that gig! Thanks for letting me contribute to your page. I am a huge fan of rock and rock fiction too.x

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