Long teased as an actual musical genre, 1970s glam rock’s breezy spirit inspired several generations of musicians since it first surfaced in the United Kingdom.
Some of the big, bad boys of glam rock included Slade, T. Rex’s Mark Bolan, and David Bowie as Ziggy Stardust. Their flamboyant clothing and visual styles were defined with outrageous costumes, wild makeup, big hairstyles, platform shoes, and pots of glitter.
But it was the campy, androgynous look blended with riff-heavy pop-rock that appealed to rebellious fans. No musical genre before it had ever combined such cheekiness with chic and pose with poise.
Adding his own spectacular twist, Curtis Labelle, former musical theatre director at St. Albert’s Visionary College from 2009 to 2016, has picked up the mantle and is reclaiming glam rock’s ferocious zeal.
A piano prodigy, the Red Deer-based singer-songwriter is mounting High on Pride 2022, a 63-stop tour across Canada with a performance at LB’s Pub on Saturday, March 5.
“It’s time I went on tour. I want to share my music with people. It’s time for Curtis Labelle to get out of Alberta and bring out the charisma and pain and share my music,” said Labelle, who creates all the showmanship and spectacle of a Liberace performance.
In fact, he created a showcase of Liberace’s repertoire in 2014. As both a singer and pianist, Labelle blended complex chords with showy piano trills. As an artist whose mantra is “go big or go home,” he fluidly injects fun and over-the-top subversion into any performance.
Labelle is making the tour a visual masterpiece. He plans to wear $10,000 worth of stunning costumes and wardrobe pieces exquisitely designed and detailed with tons of bling. Another exciting detail is Lady Lavender, his six-foot, one-of-a-kind purple grand piano.
“I bought this grand piano and gutted it and installed my keyboard in it. We had to shave off an inch on the inside so we could fit it in. We refinished it, sanded it, painted it and brought the wood to a finish with a specially-made colour.”
Supporting Labelle are Mike Sands, music director, backup vocals and guitar; St. Albert’s Adrian Johnson on drums; and Matthew Dubois on bass guitar.
The tour is more than a platform to show off Labelle’s talents. He also hopes to command the attention of music fans eager to support LGBTQ youth by fundraising for the Central Alberta Pride Society. Founded in 2012, CAPS's mission cultivates social change for the gay community through awareness and education.
The recording artist has partnered with Innisfail's Field & Forge Brewing Co. As part of the tour, Labelle will bring one can of brewery beer and have it signed by all venue owners. At the tour’s end, the beer can will be auctioned with proceeds supporting CAPS.
“I’m a proud gay man and I want to show we can do anything regardless of our orientation. And I want to bring confidence to people that may not feel comfortable in who they are.”
At LB’s Pub, the rock pianist will sing some favourite classics along with his original repertoire, including radio hit Run Run Away as well as On the Gun, his new single release.
The show starts at 7:30 p.m., 23 Akins Drive. Tickets are $12.50 and are available at www.curtislabelle.com.