#920: Wild in the Streets – Helix – Center in the Square, Kitchener, 1987

RECORD STORE TALES #920: Wild in the Streets
Helix – Center in the Square, Kitchener, 1987

We simply could not wait to see our first real concert.

As soon as the date was announced, we got tickets:  Helix with a band called Haywire opening.  Center in the Square, downtown Kitchener.  We were second row mezzanine.  Bob and I were so psyched to finally see our first real rock concert.

We wanted to bring a banner that said “HOMETOWN HELIX”.  We dreamed big.

Helix were hot on the road for their new album, Wild in the Streets.  We’d seen the video and knew what their stage show was going to look like.  The stage set played on the brick wall artwork from the album cover, with two ramps on the sides, that resembled the “fangs” in the Helix logo.  We thought those ramps were absolutely badass.  We couldn’t wait to see Brian Vollmer slide down mid-song,

We were not interested in Haywire — too pop.  The two girls in front of us were obviously Haywire fans.  They had the shirts and were going nuts for singer Paul MacAusland.  Bob and I didn’t think much of him, especially when he laid down flat on his face on the stage.  “That’s his stage move?” we questioned.  Bob liked the guitarist, but I wanted to hear some “real” rock, not this.

A kid from our school, Brian Knight, was there in the loges on the side.  He boasted the next day at school that Helix were not that good; he had seen better.  Ironically he later went on to roadie for Helix.  He could be seen in the 1991 MuchMusic special Waltzing with Helix.  He was also acknowledged in Brian Vollmer’s book Gimme An R, albeit his name was misspelled “McKnight”.  Sadly, Brian passed away this year.

What Brian claimed was simply untrue.  It might have been our first real rock concert, but it was a hell of a first.  We didn’t know a lot of the songs but we knew the hits and some of the deep cuts from Walkin’ the Razor’s Edge.  They certainly played everything we wanted to hear, including the new single “Dream On”, “Wild in the Streets”, “Gimme Gimme Good Lovin'”, “Rock You”, “Heavy Metal Love”, “(Make Me Do) Anything You Want”, “Kids are all Shakin'”, and “Deep Cuts the Knife”.  They also played a new tune that we found amusing.  It went, “Bend over and kiss your ass goodbye” (“Kiss It Goodbye”).  Fritz Hinz took a drum solo, and turned around and shockingly revealed his bare bottom with nothing but a jock strap.  We laughed – we were easily entertained!

The highlight of the show was when Vollmer climbed the loges, and then ran all the way across the mezzanine, right past our noses!  We could hardly believe it.  Bob reached out his hand but Brian didn’t slap it.  I simply made a fist, like “right on man”!  It was amazing how we’d been watching this guy climb up, and then make his way in our direction…and then he ran past and it was over in a second!  Before we knew it he was on the other side, and climbing back down to the stage again.  We knew he had a reputation for climbing on top of things and doing somersaults, but we sure didn’t know that was going to happen when we bought our tickets!

Helix didn’t make as much use of the side ramps as I thought they would, but they did put on a hell of a show.  Doctor Doerner played that big doubleneck that we wanted to see so bad, and of course the “Wild in the Streets” guitar.  We got to see all their stage moves and tricks, and yes, the women in the audience were unlike any we’d ever seen before outside of a video.

We got all the songs we wanted, plus a few we didn’t know like “Dirty Dog”.  They put on one of the most energetic shows that I’m ever likely to see.  It was the MTV/MuchMusic era and all we had seen before were music videos.  The quick cut-and-paste editing of a music video is hard to compete with.  Helix had to work hard on stage, and they went above and beyond that night.

Not a bad “first”.  What I did notice was that Vollmer’s voice sounded thinner than on album.  I wondered if all concerts were like that?  I couldn’t believe how deaf I was afterwards!  Both of us were experiencing this for the first time.  It was a strange sensation and we must have been yelling in the car the whole way home, when my dad came to pick us up.

We couldn’t stop talking about Helix for days.  Weeks.  They didn’t really have to win us over; they were hometown heroes to us.  Instead Helix just cemented our loyalty.  It is said that a great rock show can change a life.  In this case, it simply affirmed everything we had hoped.

Rock Candy reissue

30 comments

  1. Amazing that this was basically Helixs last hurrah as an headlining arena act in Canada. Having said that they always delivered live from the first time I saw them back in early 85.
    In 85 they rolled into town on a co headline tour with Honeymoon Suite which was a greats show as well.
    I caught this tour as well. Haywire was ok but a lot better when they showed up in the spring of 88 and were decked out in head to toe leather (Haywire opened for Kim Mitchell in 86 here and the singer was wearing pink and baggy pants lol) and were cranked up and loud. Plus they got bonus points for playing Mother Popcorn! lol
    Speaking of Honeymoon the following summer (88 as well) they showed up to play for the third time at our arena which was also there last hurrah as an headlining arena act in Canada. Crazy that by mid 88 two bands selling albums would never headline arena shows again..
    Helix and Honeymoon cannot blame grunge for the their decline in sales.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes this was their last album with Capitol in most parts of the world. In Canada we got Back For Another Taste (one of the last vinyl records printed in Canada until recent). But sadly this was it. Big potential with Dream On, but it did not turn into record sales and the Doctor quit the band. It was never the same after Paul died in ’92.

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  2. Great memory. Never seen Helix live. I remember liking their album covers as a kid. Especially No rest for the wicked with horns.

    Cannot remember my first concert. Really young I started going to see local bands playing in youth centers. Remember taking a bus to go to whichever nearby center if there was a band playing. Usually they were free shows, especially in the summer time and free outdoor festival in a market place or something or the price was a couple of bucks.

    I remember one time, must have been 16. I took a train to another town to go and see a festival and spent the night hanging out with local kids who also had been at the same festival. Think there was a midnight bus back or something.

    Remember the times when people wearing your favorite bands shirts were automatically cool.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I used to enjoy seeing all the T-shirts at school. You could always tell who was playing by the shirts. One day it was all AC/DC shirts. Razors Edge tour just rolled through. One day it was all Poison shirts. Flesh & Blood tour. I wondered “where were all these ‘fans’ last year when I liked Poison before them?”

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      1. Sorry, I get all the Canadian “H” bands from the ’80s mixed up. I blame Deke for adding them into the comments.
        I just looked at some album covers online and I have it straight now. Sarah has a Honeymoon Suite album. It is not bad. She also has a Haywire one. That one is terrible.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. lol….Still can’t believe he would stream Suicide Star and not part with 10 bucks including shipping to get the physical copy along with a few goodies?! I don’t have a friggin CD player and I still bought it. Snowman is in another country and he got it!! What is happening to that guy? I think an intervention is due…

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  3. It’s always good to see an act deliver live. Even if the singer is pitchy or the songs sped up, the audience feeds off the energy the band puts out.

    I remember watching Black Crowes and walking away from the concert thinking WOW. The energy they brought and the jamming they did made it so unique.

    A few days later my mate downloaded a soundboard bootleg and it was okayyyy. Because the energy of the band wasn’t present.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Interesting! That’s an interesting example because they really do have some exceptional live jams. I love the live disc that came with the 30th anniversary edition.

      But yeah Helix have NEVER failed to bring the goods when I have seen them. I saw them in 87, 96, 06 twice, and 07. Different kinds of venues from theaters to bars. And they do both really well.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. So funny. And I have the Helix doc that he was in for a minute. Their truck broke down somewhere in eastern Europe. They were touring with Sacred Reich, I know they hit Vienna on that tour.

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