DAVID BINKS – THAT NIGHT AT MASSEY HALL
BOOK REVIEW BY GERROD HARRIS
Massey Hall is a national treasure. A truly historic venue nestled in the heart of Toronto, Massey Hall has hosted some of the greatest artists of our time, many of whom have opted to perform at the intimate hall, rather than the stadiums and arenas they’re accustomed to. Having just reopened after a lengthy renovation, David Binks’ book, That Night At Massey Hall comes at an appropriate time. The stunning coffee table book collects a rich series of images and personal stories from hundreds of people in an attempt to chronicle the importance of Massey Hall.
That Night At Massey Hall is a stellar dive into the venue’s history through anecdotal narratives. Other than Binks’ introduction, That Night At Massey Hall is a stunning collection of stories collected from concert goers of the past sixty years. The stories are that of first concerts, unforgettable nights, and life changing milestones ranging from meeting one’s musical heroes to a proposal. The stories bring Massey Hall to life as one of Toronto’s greatest venues for live music of nearly all genres. With an insightful forward from Rob Bowman, That Night At Massey Hall is a book you will not want to put down as you reel through years of nostalgia of shows you also may have been present at, and countless others that will have you saying “I wish I was there”.
Binks’ narrative is further aided by an array of photos and a unique layout. From the table of contents organized like the Massey seating chart to the artist headers and overall layout, That Night At Massey Hall is presented in a unique and refreshing fashion. It’s use of photos allows for the book to be flipped through with ease and excitement. Not only do the photos bring the stories to life, but they also allow for the book to teeter between the style of a coffee table book and that of a biography made up from the stories of a few hundred contributors.
That Night At Massey Hall comes at a curious time. Not only does it coincide with the reopening of the venue, but it’s release also parallels the return of live music after a near two year absence. I’m this regard, Binks has delivered a fitting love letter to the revealed concert hall, that also captures the unique stories and lives we all have as we gather for a singular purpose: to revel in the energy of live music. Flipping through the book is a truly captivating experience, one which will resonate with readers as it captures the human condition and how we crave the sonic vibrations in a communal setting. With concerts returning, I have struggled to find the words to describe the cathartic release I’ve felt attending shows but reading That Night At Massey Hall has given me a better understanding of how live music fits into all of our lives. For this, I must thank Binks for curating such a meaningful collection of stories; That Night At Massey Hall is a truly special read.