Barenaked Ladies Deliver $1,000,000 Show for Devoted Louisville Crowd

Print

 

Going to a Barenaked Ladies concert is a little like going to a really good high school reunion.  You see old friends, reminisce, talk about what you’ve been doing lately, share some laughs, and forget your worries for a while. For those thirty- and forty-somethings in the crowd Saturday night at the Louisville Palace where BNL played in support of their latest record Grinning Streak, it was both a trip back to high school and college and well as a glimpse into a bright future.

One of the most down-to-earth and approachable bands around, BNL shares a reciprocated rapport with its audience. At each show, the crowd not only knows all the lyrics, which is not an anomaly in concert going, but they seem to understand the band and where it’s coming from and vice versa. Compared to where the band was coming from more than three years ago when they last played Louisville, the new place seems a bit happier and more comfortable.

In 2010, Ed Robertson, Jim Creegan, Tyler Stewart, and Kevin Hearn were settling into their identity as a foursome after the departure of singer Steven Page. They had been a four-piece once before during the Born on a Pirate Ship time after Creegan’s brother Andy left and before Hearn came aboard, but being a quartet was much different in 2010. The co-lead singer and songwriter was gone amidst some tumult, and the band, while not reeling, seemed happy with distancing themselves from Page. The result of that time, a time that also found Robertson grieving the loss of his mother and coming to terms with his own mortality after a plane crash, was All in Good Time. That release was a total band effort as songwriting was divided among the members. While it wasn’t a bad record and did include one of their finest singles to date, You Run Away, it only offered glimpses of the band’s well known sense of humor and melody.

With Grinning Streak, however, the band finds itself in a better place; they seem more at ease and confident in their identity, more able to look back and realize they pulled through. The show they played at the Palace in 2010 was a lot of fun, but it was interesting to note that they didn’t play even one song off All in Good Time this Saturday night.

Instead, they opened with Odds Are, a candidate for 2013’s earworm of the year award. Once they launched into this new tune about realizing the things we fear the most so much seldom happen, the tone was set for an evening that embraced their past but celebrated their present by a band that has emerged successfully out of their darkness.

They followed the opener with an unlikely selection, Never Enough off Stunt, the 1998 album that made them mainstream stars beyond the college and Canadian charts. That segued into Pinch Me, the lead single from arguably their finest album, 2000’s Maroon. Next, Luke Doucet, half of opening act Whitehorse joined them on stage for some dueling guitar work with Hearn on the new trackKeepin’ It Real.   

After the first four songs of the set, the band finally took time out for their usual banter with the audience, which is not the standard band-to-crowd sort of dialogue, either. They’ve never been the “Hello Cleveland!” sort of act. Robertson talked about walking toSmoketown for BBQ earlier that day while Hearn said he saw a man walking a tortoise, which was good news to me because I could have sworn I saw the same thing downtown this summer.  These stories coincided with another new song, Gonna Walk, which my six-year-old currently wants to hear over and over in the car. It’s a sing-along, and the crowd capably and loudly joined in.

The audience was particularly pleased with the inclusion of Another Postcard, the theme to The Big Bang Theory, and One Week, but the middle of the show provided the most interesting song selections with three in a row originally sung by Page. Blame It on Me off of their debut Gordon, a song that goes so far back that its mention of Milli Vanilli was topical at the time. But as is the case with good music, the song didn’t feel dated. That was followed by Tonight is the Night I Fell Asleep at the Wheel, another song originally featuring a Page vocal. This time Robertson handled the lead capably. Since both of these songs were Robertson-Page co-writes, it was surprising but not completely unexpected to hear them, but when they went into the BNL classic and Page-penned Brian Wilson, the crowd’s reaction was, well exuberant, wouldn’t be much of a hyperbole.  

Singing this one soon after Page’s departure wouldn’t have seemed right and possibly not have felt right to the band, but this is a band that appears more comfortable now with who they are than ever before. The beginning of their career presented a challenge to show they weren’t a novelty act, and the last stage was necessary to show they were still vital and relevant. They have passed both tests.

A couple other new songs came off well. The Snacktime-esque Smile which featured a banjo, accordion, stand up bass, and tambourine arrangement was a sincere slice of quintessential BNL with its rich harmonies and cheery disposition.  Did I Saw That Out Loud, which on the new disc has a hint of boy band pop to it, seemed more at home on stage, stripping down some of the production and making it feel more organic than slick.

Easy off of Barenaked Ladies Are Me and Shopping off Everything to Everyone dug deeper into their catalog while The Old Apartmentgot a huge ovation. Oh and of course they played If I Had a Million Dollars. A BNL show without that one would be like bipartisanism in Washington – highly unlikely.  Plus,  the evening had its patented BNL moments of odd cover medleys – Bizarre Love TriangleBlinded By the Light, and Whole Lot of Love – and beat box rap, but for a new generation, like one of their older songs says, everything old is new again. There were quite a few kids in the crowd, including a girl who drove up from northern Alabama with her mother to see the show. 

Near the end of the evening when Stewart took the lead vocals on Alcohol, a Page song they had done on the last tour, you had the feeling that he now owned it. He bounced around on stage like a wacky drunk uncle, and through it all the band, like the crowd, appeared to be enjoying themselves.

Like any good reunion in which you catch up, show wallet sized photos of your kids, and then talk about the old days, you leave feeling glad that you went. It’s unlikely anyone leaves a BNL show wishing they hadn’t gone. For nearly two hours, you can escape your worries, laugh, sing-a-long and feel just a little bit better about the world. And while the casual listener may know them for One Week, they have proven for nearly twenty-five years, they are in it for the long haul, and it’s always nice to catch a ride with them when they stop by your town.

Fellow Ontario natives Whitehorse opened with a set of a half dozen songs that went well beyond the folk label they are sometimes given. This married duo of Luke Doucet and Melissa McClelland is no Captain and Tennille; they are multi-instrumentalists who do some pretty impressive and innovative looping to bring the sound of a whole band to their live performance. But it never became gimmicky in the least.

They opened with perhaps their best know song Devil’s Got a Gun and went through a brisk set with a relaxed verve and musical acumen. The ode to their hometown of Hamilton, No Glamour in the Hammer was spirited and gritty, and during the rest of the set, they moved deftly from Americana to near rockabilly. Plus they have a great western guitar sound that seems more akin to the Calgary Stampede than it does to a steel town in east Ontario.

About Kevin Sedelmeier
I am polite, and I'm rarely late. I like to eat ice cream, and really enjoy a nice pair of slacks.
More articles from Kevin Sedelmeier
Like us on Facebook!
Subscribe to our RSS Feed!
Follow us on Twitter!
Add us to your circles on Google+!
Follow us on Pinterest!
Follow us on Tumblr!

Search Louisville Events

More Events | Post an Event | Event Map
thu
30
fri
31
sat
1
sun
2
mon
3
tue
4
wed
5

Search Louisville Restaurants

Louisville Independent Business Alliance

 

Copyright © 2014 Louisville.com, All Rights Reserved
137 W. Muhammad Ali Boulevard, Suite 102, Louisville, KY 40202
502-625-0100
Mobile Site