Whenever The Glorious Sons play a hometown show in Kingston, it tends to feel like a special event. The band’s first headline gig at the Leon’s Centre in 2018 sold out quickly and was eventually released as a popular live album; Little Prison City. The following summer, the Sons played the first live concert at Richardson Stadium in well over a decade. In April of 2022, the band’s Leon’s Centre performance marked the first major concert in the city since the COVID-19 pandemic.

On December 31, 2023, thousands of fans descended on the downtown Kingston arena once again, for a concert that’s been years in the making. Back in 2021, The Glorious Sons announced a special New Year’s Eve show to help Kingstonians ring in 2022. However, by late December of that year, the world was in the middle of another major COVID-19 wave, as the omicron variant caused widespread lockdowns and stay-at-home orders; the Sons’ New Year’s bash would have to wait.

Flash forward two years, and The Glorious Sons were finally ready to celebrate the new year with 5,000 or so of their closest fans; all of whom were treated to one of the band’s best live performances to date. web link

For a group that’s seemingly been on the road non-stop for the past two years, one would be forgiven if they expected the Sons to take a somewhat subdued approach to their final show of the calendar year, but that wouldn’t be the band people know and love. Right off the bat, the Sons emerged on-stage at 10:20 p.m. with an explosive performance of Ruby, one of the most recognizable hits from their early years.

That was followed up by even more popular hits, including performances of Mamma, Josie, and My Poor Heart. While lead singer Brett Emmons rarely spoke between songs during the first half of the set, there was an immediate connection forged between the group and the fans in attendance, with Emmons encouraging them to sing along to the songs they loved, sometimes turning things over to the crowd entirely.

Throughout the two-plus hour set, the band exuded a sense of comfort that could only be found at a hometown gig. With the concert billed as a “New Year’s Eve House Party,” the show had a clear sense of intimacy from start to finish.

The sense of comfort and intimacy was heightened by Emmons remaining shoeless throughout the entire night, making everyone feel like they were right at home with him; this is a group that loves playing together and wants everyone in the audience to come along for the party.

Shortly before the release of the Sons’ fourth studio album, Glory, this past September, the band announced it had parted ways with former guitar player Chris Koster (web link). In the years they spent with Koster, the Sons grew tremendously as a band, both live and in-studio. It made sense when some questioned how the departure of Koster might impact the group’s live shows. While Koster certainly brought a high degree of musicianship to the band, in his absence, the rest of the Sons have continued to up their game and certainly put together an unforgettable concert on this occasion.

In the several months the Sons have spent on the road as part of their current Glory Tour, it’s clear the intimacy between members has grown stronger. Everyone on stage has a noticeable love for one another and what they’re doing collectively. However, that sense of comfort does not take away from the group’s energy, if anything, it allows them to open up more as artists and give everything they have to their craft.

There were no glaring omissions within the group’s 24 song setlist as they played every hit fans would have expected, as well as some tracks from the newly released Glory.

The band did change things up in the encore, however, with a cheeky cover of The Beaches’ song Blame Brett, which was released after Emmons and Jordan Miller (lead singer of The Beaches) broke-up following a three-year relationship.

Joined by members of local alt-folk group Tiny Horse, Emmons and the rest of his band took ownership of Blame Brett, without turning it in to an opportunity to bash Miller. Anyone in attendance who knew of the song or Emmons and Miller’s history was in on the joke. Those who didn’t know were treated to an enjoyable cover of a catchy tune.

Before the encore, the group also helped fans ring in the New Year, with a countdown to midnight as confetti fell from the ceiling while those in attendance kissed their loved ones and wished each other a happy and healthy 2024; I can’t think of anywhere else most people in the crowd would have rather been at that particular moment.

As someone who has seen The Glorious Sons on several occasions over the years, I felt Sunday’s concert stood out as one of their best.

While each one of The Glorious Sons’ hometown shows is special in its own right, the 2024 New Year’s Eve House Party felt particularly memorable. Perhaps it was the excitement of the New Year, or maybe it was the fact the band seemed more connected as a group than they have in the past, but Sunday’s concert felt like we were witnessing something especially remarkable.

One aspect that made the new year's eve concert remarkable was how the Sons used the event to feature an up-and-coming local band, as Kingston’s Tiny Horse served as one of the night’s opening acts. In their biggest live show to date, the alt-folk band delighted fans with their vibrant and theatrical numbers, including songs like Pink Lemonade, John Player’s Special, and The Girls.

For their first show in a 5,000-plus seat arena, Tiny Horse proved they were exactly where they belonged, with a set that left a lasting impression on those in attendance. Lead singer Cirara Robert’s was in her element the entire set, leading her campy crew without taking too much of the spotlight away from the rest of the group.

Picking the right opening act can be critical to a concert’s success; and the Sons clearly set the night up well picking Tiny Horse and Perth’s Boston Levi to get the party started. Both acts complimented the headliner in different ways through their unique styles, without overshadowing the evening’s main attraction.

While there were many positives throughout the night, I was particular disappointed in the lighting design used for the two opening acts. The haze created by several fog machines throughout the arena, coupled with intensely bright whites, washed out Boston Levi and Tiny Horse. Throughout most of the opening performances, I found it quite difficult to see the artists on stage; something that was not the case during the Sons’ set.

Despite the fact the show was not officially a sell-put, the vast majority of seats at the Leon’s Centre (soon to be renamed Slush Puppie Place) were full, demonstrating a strong appetite amongst Kingston concertgoers for similar special events in the future.

Should The Glorious Sons choose to make the New Year’s Eve concert an annual tradition, I’m sure it would be a popular decision. However, in some ways, I would be happy if they left the show as a one off and found something else new and exciting for their next hometown gig.

Regardless of what The Glorious Sons do next time, it’s clear the 2024 New Year’s Eve show in Kingston will be remembered fondly for many years to come. While it will take a lot for the band to top what they gave fans this past weekend, I’m sure they will rise to the occasion once again when the time eventually comes. Posted: Jan 3, 2024
In this Article Artist(s) The Glorious Sons, Tiny Horse, Boston Levi Resource(s) Slush Puppie Place