Bif Naked in a recent promo photo.

MUSIC

‘Triumphantly,’ Bif Naked set for Canada Day return to Surrey, 10 years after one bad day here

The Toronto-resident rocker recalls 2009 gig that followed chemo treatment for breast cancer

When Bif Naked hits Surrey’s Canada Day stage on Monday, July 1, it’ll be exactly a decade since her last concert in the city, at the very same venue.

In the summer of 2009, her performance at Bill Reid Millennium Amphitheatre was not a very pleasant experience for the longtime rocker, because she was recovering from breast-cancer treatment that hit hard.

“I still had my chemo haircut and catheter tubing in my neck,” Naked recalled in a phone interview with the Now-Leader.

“I remember every moment of that last show, and I was choking on stage and every time I jumped, my jugular vein would constrict because I had so many problems with the surgical port and all this other stuff that goes on behind the scenes with your breast-cancer treatment,” Naked continued.

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PHOTO: Bif Naked at Surrey’s Canada Day celebration in 2009. (Photo: City of Surrey/Rick Chapman)

She just couldn’t perform the same that day, she said.

“I was completely self-conscious and I was embarrassed about my hair, and it was just so many things, it was crazy.”

Also that day, some women Naked had met in her hospital chemo-treatment program came to the show, making it a hugely emotional one for her.

“They were in their pink boas, and even some of the members of our Run for the Cure (team) came,” Naked recalled. “Even talking about it makes me totally verklempt because that type of sorority never gets old. Those of us who do survive, literally, because we know girls who didn’t, will always walk with this survivor’s guilt. It’s just very moving and emotional, and I’m going to try hard to be a big girl at this show.

“And now, being able to go back, you know, triumphantly, 10 years later, to say that I have actually lived that long, that many more years, I just can’t believe it,” she continued.

”And I survived other things after that, which in my mind were even worse than breast cancer. It’s nuts. After that show my kidneys would fail, I had heart surgery, I went through a divorce, all these things – so much has happened over the past 10 years.”

Calling from Toronto, where the former Vancouverite now lives, the Indian-born, Manitoba-raised Naked (nee Beth Torbert) sounded healthy and full of energy on a recent Monday afternoon.

Naked says Hogtown was the right move for her and her third husband, Steve “Snake” Allen, who plays guitar in her band and is “just a nice boy from Cranbrook.” She said Toronto has been a good jumping-off point for acoustic shows the couple has done, and continue to do, following the release of I, Bificus, Naked’s 2016 memoir.

“I wouldn’t trade my time in Vancouver for anything,” Naked insisted, “but now I’m finding that as I get older, with business ventures I’m starting, becoming a manager, another book on the go, a couple companies and another record, I don’t think those things could have happened five years ago, compared to the place I’m in now.”

Writing I, Bificus was something Naked says she was “really badgered into doing” by Peter Karroll, her longtime manager. In the end, however, “the process was kind of fun,” she said, and the book led to touring experiences Naked really enjoyed.

“The book readings, I found, were more gratifying for me, and we kind of enshrouded that into an acoustic show, and that’s been my biggest reward,” she said. “So far we’ve done two national tours with the book, and my husband just drinks wine while I abuse him on stage while reading these stories, and I cry, then I sing and then cry some more, so that’s how that goes. It’s been fun, just amazing.”

• RELATED STORY: Surrey’s Canada Day expected to be ‘even bigger than the last’

At Surrey’s Canada Day event, in front of thousands of flag-waving people, Naked will co-headline with the band Our Lady Peace. Her band includes Allen along with Chiko Misomali on drums, Ferdy Belland on bass guitar and Doug Fury on guitar.

She’s keen to return to the big stage once more.

“Because we are given 60 minutes for our set length, we really try to cram in every song possible, and make the set explosive,” Naked explained. “I love the big stage and the outdoor shows and we hope the weather is great.

“I know for sure we will play all the crowd favourites like ‘Spaceman’ and ‘I Love Myself Today,’ but I will definitely do a special dedication of ‘Lucky’ to commemorate my 10 years of surviving cancer and dedicate the song to our breast cancer sisters still fighting.”

“Can’t wait!”

• READ MORE: Rock band Our Lady Peace to headline Surrey’s 2019 Canada Day celebration.



tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

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