Klaatu's Second Coming Worth The Wait

by Alan Niester

"Well, how do you like us so far?" asked an undoubtedly apprehensive Klaatu guitarist named Terry Draper from the stage of the Music Hall Theatre Tuesday night. The enthusiastic response must have left him elated because, despite a string of hit albums stretching over the last five years or so, Tuesday nights concert was only the second Klaatu had ever performed.

The reason is well known to local rock fans. Klaatu is that wonderfully fortunate band that managed to pull off a cute marketing gimmick. When the musicians' first album was released, they didn't bother listing their names on the sleeve, preferring instead to maintain an air of mystery.

In time, it became common knowledge that Klaatu was actually a collection of Toronto studio veterans headed by Draper. Though the jig was up, so to speak, the trio continued releasing high-quality studio albums, and built up a sizeable cult following that supported the band despite whatever feelings the fans might have had about The Deception. Despite the sales success, the trio declined to perform live, until now.

They finally assembled a sextet around the original trio and are taking to the road, opening here Tuesday nght for the Vancouver based hard rock band Prism. Although the set was less than 45 minutes long, Klaatu gave the audience more than it could possibly have hoped for in terms of quality.

Naturally, the band's best known radio hits, Sub Rosa Subway and Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft, were the best received. The numbers transferred well to stage. The band used three synthesizer keyboards to fill out the sound, and Draper and Woloschuk displayed their best Lennon/McCartney harmonies. Both numbers earned them standing ovations and, over all, both the older material and the harder edged songs from their latest album were delivered with verve and precision. The whole set made me wonder why they had waited so long.