Barenaked Ladies Live in Concert: Fri., August 6, 2010 at Mohegan Sun – A Weekend Review Special Edition

Originally posted 2010-08-21 12:59:46. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

For the set list, CLICK HERE!

By Chris Moore:

To the public eye, and even to some fans, the Barenaked Ladies’ break with Steven Page is a loss that could nullify any future efforts in the band’s name.  This is understandable to some degree, as Page has appeared to be one half of the band in their most well-known singles (think: “If I Had $1000000” and “One Week”).  If Page is gone, some have said, then perhaps it is time for BnL to close up shop.

Anyone in attendance at the Mohegan Sun arena on Friday, August 6 would beg to differ.

(Correction: anyone with any sense, which is clearly not everyone based on other reviews which have been posted on the web, Ticketmaster.com in particular.)

The truth is that the Barenaked Ladies achieved live in concert what they recently achieved on record with All in Good Time: reminding their audience that their three supporting members are more than simply support members.  Kevin Hearn, in addition to being a skilled multi-instrumentalist is a songwriter in his own right.  And this is nothing new; remember “Sound of Your Voice,” the standout third track on Are Me?  Remember “Hidden Sun,” the hidden track on Maroon?  Yeah, those were Kevin Hearn songs, each another good reason to sing “Hold on, here comes a Kevin Hearn song” to his new track “Another Heartache,” as Mike had us all doing in the car on the way to the concert.

Jim Creegan is not only their bass player, but has released numerous albums apart from BnL, many with former Lady Andy as the Brothers Creegan.  Recently, he has begun adding his songs to BnL albums again, and it may come as a shock to realize that the band’s best singer is arguably a man known more for his background vocals than his leads.

Tyler Stewart has always been the guy who makes you laugh.  He’s a good drummer, but we’ve known that.  Well, starting with “Allergies” on 2008’s Snacktime, Stewart has asserted even his lead singing voice.  In the absence of Page, Stewart has accompanied frontman Ed Robertson at all of their All in Good Time promotional interviews, from radio to VH1, and his voice can be heard in a brief but significant role on what should have been the latest BnL single, “Four Seconds.”

Really, it should have come as no surprise that the 8/6/2010 Barenaked Ladies show at Mohegan Sun met and far exceeded any expectations I had for the concert — which were many and various, having seen the five-piece band in action and being the longtime fan that I am.

BnL keychain from their merch table

BnL keychain from their merch table

Aside from the improvisational numbers, the unmitigated high points of the concert were their performances of “Old Apartment,” “Eraser,” “On the Lookout,” “Sound of Your Voice,” and “Alcohol,” each highlighting a different strength of their live show.

Hearing “Old Apartment” three songs into the show was a surprise and a treat.  It was almost as if to make a statement that they will still play their older songs regardless of Page’s absence.  “The Old Apartment” has classic Steven Page lead vocal written all over it, but Robertson did an outstanding job of leading the song as if he, not Page, had been singing it for two decades.  In the encore, they again made a statement with Stewart taking the lead on “Alcohol,” bringing the house down as he stepped out from behind the drum kit (with Robertson taking over there) and channeled Jack Black in his energetic performance.  This was not simply a novelty, like, “Oh, that’s nice that they gave Tyler something else to do.”  This was a surprising, thrilling, straight-up amazing performance of a track I never expected to hear in concert again.

“Sound of Your Voice” was originally performed by its writer, Hearn, in concert until they realized that Page’s presence took the song to whole new level.  Again, I was disappointed to think that I would never hear this song performed to its full potential again.  Not so.  Their new arrangement of “Sound of Your Voice” features Hearn on acoustic guitar, singing lead, and the three other band members singing Temptations-style backup, perfectly voicing the signature parts of the song that were previously hit by guitars and other instruments.  This was an impressive, funny, and yet seriously good version of the song.

When Creegan took to the piano, my first response was, “Wait.  Jim plays piano?”  Making like the Band, the Ladies mixed up instruments all night long, and this was perhaps the pinnacle.  Creegan’s performance of “On the Lookout” was beautiful and perfect, except perhaps for the absence of Robertson’s “Let’s roll this one from the top” intro from the studio recording.  Another piano song that stood out was “Eraser,” introduced by Hearn and Robertson competing to see who could hold out the “Eeeeeeeeee-” note longer than the other.  Suffice it to say that this ended with Robertson pretending to fall, ending up “unconscious” on his back.  Even the songs from their children’s album held up here, and “Eraser” was every bit as impressive as the other, more “serious” songs.

True to form, a Barenaked Ladies concert wouldn’t be complete without improvisation.  Twice during the night, the four-piece experimented musically, sans Steven Page who had always been their most theatrical member.  In his place, Robertson put together a hilarious medley of Herman’s Hermits’ “Something Tells Me I’m Into Something Good” and a rap about gambling at Mohegan Sun, the latter of which was a theme returned to all night in their stage banter.  Then, with Hearn on piano for a medley of recent pop songs kicked off with the 1974 Pilot song “Magic” — best known for the chorus line, “Oh, oh, it’s magic, you know” — Robertson, Creegan, and Stewart performed a dance number that not only caused the most energetic crowd reaction of the night, but was also fantastically choreographed and obviously well-rehearsed.  The next time I have to explain BnL to someone who has only heard their hits, I will mention this final improv:  they didn’t settle for being goofy; instead, they put together a tight performance that demonstrated just how seriously they take their on-stage personas.

The Barenaked Ladies are as tight, impressive, and enterprising a band as they have ever been.  After two decades as one of rock music’s most under-appreciated quintets, save for a short stint at the top of the charts in 1998, it looks like they’re poised to be one of rock music’s most under-appreciated quartets of the new decade.  Their live act is as exciting and as long (in the range of two hours) as my favorite act of last summer, Wilco, a band that has reached what is perhaps their critical prime.  Do yourself a favor and tune in to BnL as well.

This is one in a series of acoustic cover songs, original music, and free mp3 downloads here on the Laptop Sessions Music Video Blog.

4 thoughts on “Barenaked Ladies Live in Concert: Fri., August 6, 2010 at Mohegan Sun – A Weekend Review Special Edition

  1. Nice review, Chris.

    I, too, saw them on their summer tour in May in Louisville. Really enjoyable show with an eclectic setlist and great opening act (in this case, Ingrid Michaelson, though I think they used someone else for the New England leg of the tour).

    I think they hold up well, sans Page. The Old Apartment and even What a Good Boy work very well even without him, though Page’s manic movements are missed particularly with Too Little, Too Late. However as a big fan of the darker songs, I miss seeing those performed (War on Drugs, etc.). But it was a really fun show. It was sad seeing not the greatest crowd for them (~55% capacity and only one bra thrown onstage for Pinch Me), but Louisville isn’t exactly their #1 market and selling 1500-2000 tickets to shows still makes for a successful band.

    And I agree totally about Jim and Kevin. Jim has a very underrated voice (see Peterborough from BLAM) and Kevin is the most talented by far of the band, particularly with his versatility.

    Here’s hoping Steve makes it to the Midwest on his upcoming tour!

  2. As you point out, there is no doubt that Page’s absence is significant. He is, in my opinion, a singular performer and vocalist, and the BnL that I saw (and loved!) this month was not and never will be quite the same BnL I’ve seen in years past. But, thankfully, I’m not so sure that this is such a bad thing. Don’t get me wrong; I’d jump at the chance to see them all working together again, but for now I’m fascinated to see what each camp turns out.

    If he does come your way, I would love to hear your feedback. It sounds like you’ve got a keen ear for music that I can respect — I hope you won’t hesitate to send your thoughts this way in the future!

    Take care,

    – Chris

  3. I agree, totally. I think musically speaking it’s exciting for all parties, because we get more from Jim and Kevin (who as I said really shine) and I think Steven has a lot of musical talent that didn’t always fit into the BNL canon so to speak.

    I’ll be sure to let you know what I think if SP makes it down this year (we tweet back and forth quite a bit too, so I’m sure we’ll be in contact! @Hoosier114 ;)).

  4. OH! Ben, thank you so much for drawing the connection for me! In that case, I’ll see you soon in Twitter-land… :-)

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