Max Webster were one of my favourite bands back in the day. The first time I saw them, they opened up for Rush at Winnipeg’s Playhouse Theatre in 1976. I had no idea who they were; at that point, they had just released their self-titled debut album and were still totally unknown. I probably expected some sort of singer-songwriter act. Then they came onstage dressed all freaky — Kim Mitchell was wearing some sort of clear plastic mask and a flowered, midriff-baring women’s top, keyboardist Terry Watkinson had whiteface makeup, and bassist Mike Tilka just looked weird. They plugged in, played Hangover and fried my tiny mind.
The next time they came to town, to open for some shitty ’70s act at Winnipeg Arena, I was right down front all by myself. “Where’s your mask?” I yelled up at Kim. His response: “This guy just asked me if I want to buy some hash!” (When I had lunch with Mitchell about 30 years later and told him the story, we both laughed — and then he apologized unnecessarily.) I saw them a bazillion times after that, of course, and bought all the albums, and was suitably bummed when they broke up and when Mitchell stopped working with Pye Dubois (after the latter cut him off for reasons Kim has claimed he never understood). I’d be lying if I said that I’m as consistently excited by Mitchell’s post-Max solo output, but I’m still glad he’s around — and that he shows enough of the old spark every now and then to remind me of the glory days. If you’d also like a reminder of Max’s glory days, I have this big-assed promo poster for their 1980 album Universal Juveniles. It’s a little rough around the edges, but it’s actually in better shape than my shitty photography suggests. Email me if you’d like to buy it. Or if you know whatever became of that canary-yellow outfit. Or if you want to buy some hash. (Just kidding; if I had any, I’d keep it all for myself.)