Drake made a surprise visit to Toronto’s Nathan Phillips Square at City Hall Sunday night to help celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday, the day after the official Canada Day (July 1) annual holiday. The “6 God” ambassador appeared during a set by R&B duo DVSN (Nineteen85 and Daniel Daley), who are signed to his OVO Sound label.
“I’m here tonight, it’s a honor and a pleasure, truly, to be celebrating Canada’s 150th,” Drake told the sea of people gathered for the free concert. “And I want to tell you when we celebrate Canada, we celebrate all these individuals from all races, all places, that came here and found solitude in this beautiful country. We celebrate our Indigenous Peoples. We celebrate the land that we’re standing on tonight.”
“I just came for the party though. I’m just gonna be honest with you,” Drake said, wearing a white T-shirt stamped with The Rolling Stones logo with the Canadian flag on the tongue, as he launched into a bit of “Jumpman,” then “Gyalchester.” “Okay, I want to say, I was backstage the whole time. I was watching each and every one of you. And I want to say, I’m just so grateful, you know, I’ve been all over the world, I’ve seen every artist and their fan base, and what they call home. I’m just so happy that I’m from a place where we really love each other, you know?”
“How about some real love in here tonight?” he said in a segue to “Fake Love.” And he certainly got the love — with the crowd yelling his lyrics en masse. “And that’s why you will forever be the greatest city in the world,” he declared, before calling out his pals Majid (Al Maskati of Majid Jordan), Roy Woods and 85.
“We gotta bring everybody out,” he said as they all arrived.
“No matter where we go, on God’s green earth, we’re always thinking about Toronto. We’re always thinking about Canada. If you notice, OVO, we’re just a group of kids from Canada; we want to make you proud. If you’re proud to be Canadian, make some noise,” he said, the four of them standing side by side.
But it wasn’t over yet.
“I feel like we gotta give ‘em something special. We’re celebrating the country. I had something planned. I don’t know if you’re gonna like it though,” Drake teased.
“You ready? You sure you’re ready,” he said, milking it in true Drizzy fashion.
“You sure? I’m telling you, we love you Canada, we really do,” he said, as the music for Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Run Away With Me” started. “We thank you for everything. I go by the name of Drake. This is OVO Sound,” he said, pointing to his crew. “One more time for DVSN.”
And then the fireworks erupted.
More praise for Canada this 150 weekend came in Ottawa on Saturday, when U2’s Bono and The Edge flew in especially for the party on Parliament Hill in Canada’s capital city for an estimated crowd of tens of thousands. The band had a show that night in Cleveland.
“Your Highnesses; Your Canadian-nesses,” said Bono, retooling the word royal greeting as Prince Charles and Duchess of Cornwell, Camilla, were in attendance, along with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and wife Sophie.
“Thank you for having us. The rain you can blame on the Irish. Myself and The Edge are here all the way from the north side of Dublin to salute you. We have a side gig playing weddings, funerals and Bar Mitzvahs, but this is our very first 150th birthday party, is it not, The Edge?” he laughed.
“The Irish have been welcomed here for hundreds of years and still now. From the famine, where we were in many respects refugees, to now where we arrive by choice bringing ingenious little start-ups and approximately 17,165 Irish pubs,” he joked.
“Whether you have just arrived from Syria or your roots go back thousands of years, this is your home, and we are grateful guests in it,” he continued, as The Edge started strummung the opening to their 1991 hit ballad “One” on an acoustic guitar.
“When others build walls, you open doors. When others divide, your arms are open wide. Where you lead, others follow, and that’s the real reason The Edge and myself are here today. Now excuse some poor French,” he said, reading his message off a tiny piece of paper.
“Happy birthday,” Bono concluded. “In Neil Young’s words, this one’s for you.” And with that, he sang “One,” which he ended, as he has done before, with a twist on some lines from the Beatles’ “Rain.”