Hermits no more
Halifax rockers pack it in with one last local show
By KIERAN GRANT -- Toronto Sun
THE LONG GOODBYE: Most bands struggle to land their first gig. For Thrush Hermit, it's been a challenge to reach their last.
The Halifax rock band, longtime favourites among Toronto audiences, make their final local appearance at the Reverb tonight after a series of gripping delays.
Thrush Hermit announced in September that they would split up after one last fall tour.
Within a week of setting the dates, they had to say farewell to their farewell shows, because singer-guitarist Joel Plaskett was ordered by his doctor to stay off the road. Plaskett had a dangerously low white blood cell count.
All of this coincided eerily with the release of Plaskett's debut solo album, which happened to be titled In Need Of Medical Attention.
Fortunately, a recent bone marrow test for leukemia proved negative, Plaskett's blood count is up, and he's been given a clean bill of health.
"At least, as clean as it ever gets with me," he says, laughing down the line from his home recently.
But Plaskett admits that his month-long scare has made Thrush Hermit's last gig that much more important.
"I was obviously preoccupied with my health," he says. "But there was a nagging sense that the band needed some closure. None of us would have been satisfied without these shows."
Plaskett says Thrush Hermit's break-up is amicable. Formed a decade ago when its principal members were 14, the band felt they'd reached their creative and commercial peak with this year's album Clayton Park, and wanted to end their career together amicably, "on a strong note.
"We've always seemed bigger than we are," Plaskett told me in September. "We're like any cult band, I guess. We can't keep doing it just because we're caught up in the momentum of it."
The band go on to London tomorrow, then continue back east to play their last-ever show in Halifax next weekend.
"It'll be sad," Plaskett says. "But we're kind of relieved that we can sit around for the holidays and think about what we're going to do next year."
The singer says the list of things he'll miss about Thrush Hermit is too long to name -- though he looks back with particular fondness at the 1995 Edgefest appearance where the band irked the audience with an entire set of Steve Miller covers.
As for the things he won't miss? Well, touring in the winter comes to mind.
"I'm getting in the van tonight at 9 to head out there," he says with a laugh. "The heater doesn't work in the van. Is it snowing there yet?"