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.

“Elf’s Lament” (Barenaked Ladies Christmas cover song)

Originally posted 2007-12-22 01:05:35. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Jim Fusco:

Hello everyone! Continuing with our last couple days of Christmas, we give you “Elf’s Lament”, a great song by Barenaked Ladies. We’ve always been happy with the way our live version came out, so I got the guys together to do a special acoustic version for the Laptop Sessions!  This song was perfect for the band to do because it features vocal parts for three members of the band.  Well, in this version, Mike isn’t sitting behind a large (and loud) drum set, so he got to sing the lead parts with the other three of us.  I’ve always been a fan of songs where two or three members of the band get a chance to sing.  Songs like “Two of Us” by the Beatles and “Walking On Air” by the Moody Blues (off of their amazing 1999 album, Strange Times) are great examples where you can hear all of the band members.  And, my favorite bands are ones where each member gets a chance to shine.

Which brings me to the band that we covered tonight: Barenaked Ladies.  Their Christmas album, “Barenaked for the Holidays’ is awesome.  Four of the five (at the time) members wrote and sang lead vocals on songs throughout the album.  That, to me, is the mark of a truly great band.  You get so much variety in an album and that’s probably why I’m such a big fan of the Moody Blues, the Byrds, the Beatles, and the Beach Boys (after 1967).  “Barenaked for the Holidays” features such classic songs as “Green Christmas” and Steven Page’s “Hanukkah Blessings”.

“Elf’s Lament” was originally done by Ed Robertson, Steven Page, and Michael Bublé.  I’m not a huge fan of Bublé’s voice in this song- it just has an odd sound to it.  And, saying his voice sounds odd next to Steven Page’s voice is really saying something. :-)  So, we stuck Cliff with that part to sing.  I got the Steven Page part.  This song was so much fun to sing.  It was a big hit on our Christmas concert CD and DVD set.  For that show, we performed in front of over 60 people, including the mayor of our hometown of Wallingford, CT.  It was one of the highlights of my musical career.  We just had so much fun playing this song- I wish there were more songs like this that give everyone a chance to shine.  I think everyone else in the band would’ve stayed more interested.  Knowing you have a starring role makes you pay more attention for sure!

To learn more about our music, please visit http://jimfusco.com/albums.html.  You can purchase our Christmas concert on either CD or DVD there.  It’s jam-packed with 30 (yes, 30!) original and cover songs.  I personally think it’s the best Christmas album you can buy for the money.  I hope you enjoy tonight’s Barenaked Ladies cover song and hope you’ll come back for more great Christmas songs from the Laptop Sessions acoustic cover songs music video blog!

The Top Five Rock Artists of the Decade (2000s): NUMBER TWO is Barenaked Ladies

Originally posted 2010-04-19 14:30:31. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

This is the fourth in a five part series dedicated to the top five rock artists of the decade, 2000-2009.  The criteria used to determine this list were: (1) Quality of Music, (2) Quantity of Released Material, (3) Diversity of Media, and (4) Roles of Artists/Band Members.  Look for new posts coming soon!

By Chris Moore:

As we close in on my top pick for best rock artist of the decade, the decisions are getting more and more difficult.  In an attempt to be as unbiased as possible, I initially had last post’s honoree — Jack White — in the #2 spot.  Then I started listening to All in Good Time, which led me back to their albums of last decade.  After one listen to Maroon and Everything to Everyone, I knew that the Barenaked Ladies belonged in a higher position.  It should also be noted that while I do believe I made the right choice for the #1 slot, I have been a BnL fan for much longer, and they hold quite an important place in my heart where music is concerned.

That being said, let’s get this party started!

The Barenaked Ladies have distinguished themselves in all four of the categories I’ve established (see above) for this list.  They are a constantly evolving group of songwriter/musicians and performers, not content to rest easy at what worked for them in the past.  Throughout this, the second full decade of their existence, they have been prolific, releasing new material in every year except 2009.  In addition to typical studio albums every three years, this decade has seen the release of a greatest hits collection, a DVD compilation of their music videos, a holiday-themed album, a musical production of Shakespeare’s As You Like It (the one release in their catalog I have yet to set eyes on), their first live DVD, and a children’s album with accompanying book.

Although the decade ended with the oft-noted and overly publicized departure of founding member Steven Page, the remaining four members closed out 2009 by recording a series of eighteen songs, fourteen of which would find their way to 2010’s All in Good Time.

In every way that matters, the Barenaked Ladies have been a creative force to reckon with — and pay attention to — throughout this decade, and despite the criticism of naysayers, they have a very promising future in the next.

POST-STUNT EXPECTATIONS

To say that there was a lot riding on Maroon would be an understatement.

After the breakthrough success of 1998’s Stunt (via the chart-topping “One Week”), BnL’s image and career stood to be reconsidered based on what came next.  While Maroon was successful enough to preclude accusations of one-hit-wonder status, their American audience in particular seemed less and less interested in their work as the years went on.  This much is apparent in the charts, each album topping out further down than the previous one.  (As of this writing, this continues to hold true for All in Good Time, which has peaked at 23; in Canada, on the other hand, it has rightfully marked a comeback, hitting #3 which is the highest chart position for a BnL album there since Maroon.)

But numbers are numbers.  There are so many important aspects of modern life which, contrary to the beliefs and attempts of the powers that be, simply cannot be quantified.

Music is certainly one of those.

Maroon is BnL’s most fully-realized, cohesive, balanced album; it is serious, yet entertaining — fast and slow, loud and quiet.  The first half is populated by equally single-worthy rockers like “Falling for the First Time,” “Too Little Too Late,” and “Pinch Me,” the latter admittedly seeming like a wanna-be follow-up to “One Week.”  The second half of the album stretches out a bit, unwinding hauntingly gorgeous ballads like “Off the Hook” and “Helicopters.”  I haven’t even mentioned some of my favorites — “Baby Seat,” “Go Home,” and “The Humour of the Situation.”  This is a true five star album.

Although the album and singles performed well, it was apparent that they were all received with a bit less interest than Stunt‘s material had been (or, more accurately, its lead-off single).  I, for one, think that it is no coincidence that this was just about the same time that I began to lose interest in popular radio and music television.

BRILLIANCE IN RELATIVE OBSCURITY

To avoid going into painstaking detail about every track that the Barenaked Ladies have released since 2000, I will begin by saying that there is a vast sea of reasons to be interested in and entertained by this band.  As much as I felt people should have been more receptive to Maroon, I was flabbergasted at the apathy that 2003’s Everything to Everyone.  How an album that could so masterfully run the gamut between silly and serious, all the while being consistently brilliant — both lyrically and instrumentally — is beyond me.  This album is composed of some truly killer tracks: sardonic songs like “Celebrity” and “Second Best,” upbeat rockers like “Testing 1, 2, 3” and “Unfinished,” a love song like “Maybe Katie,” the oddly foreboding “War on Drugs,” and the stereotypical BnL knee-slappers “Another Postcard” and “Shopping.”

A lack of public praise never slowed them down, as 2006 saw the recording of 29 new tracks.  Where the band went wrong, in this writer’s opinion, was in deciding to release one album that year and a second album the following year.  What ended up happening was the most outstanding tracks were split between the two discs and, with a lack of cohesion between the two discs, the Are Me/Are Men project was simply not as good as it could have been.  Even Wikipedians are uncertain how to classify these selections in their catalog — either as the seventh or the seventh and eighth albums of BnL’s career.  Still, these releases saw the unveiling of a new era for the band — one of independence from major labels and of stretching their musical sensibilities.  Kevin Hearn’s contributions demonstrated the potential that he presented not only as an instrumentalist and singer, but also as a songwriter.  Jim Creeggan’s beautiful vocals also showed significant promise, even if they were only showed off on a silly number.

These three (or four?) albums would be reason alone to consider BnL one of the best bands of the decade.  And yet they didn’t stop there.  In the past ten years, the band has released some amazing work, not the least of which are their holiday album and children’s album.  The holiday album, Barenaked for the Holidays, brilliantly blended Christmas, Hanukkah, and winter-themed songs in one very characteristic collection (think: “Elf’s Lament,” “Green Christmas,” and others).  The latter, Snacktime!, swung far enough to the silly side of the spectrum to be largely ignored by “serious” music critics.  That being said, anyone who takes a moment to listen to the harmonies and instrumentation will realize that Snacktime! is a masterpiece unto itself, two of the best tracks — “Pollywog in a Bog” and “Louis Loon” — being penned by the unusual collaboration of Creeggan & Ed Robertson.  And it saw the lead vocal debut of Tyler Stewart on the rocking “Allergies,” a song that almost makes me feel cool for having season allergies myself.

AN ARREST, A CRASH, A BREAK, A VOW

Far too much has been written about the moments of crisis and tragedy in the personal lives of the Barenaked Ladies these past few years, so I’ll be especially brief here.  If you’ve kept up with music news, you know that Steven Page was arrested on charges of drug possession, Ed Robertson crashed his plane (fortunately with no serious injuries sustained), and Page’s departure was announced in 2009.  All in all, not a wonderful end to the decade.

That being said, the four remaining members — Robertson, Hearn, Creeggan, and Stewart — have vowed to continue recording and performing as BnL.  How well is that going?

One listen to All in Good Time is all you’ll need to answer that one on your own.

Barenaked Ladies SET LIST – 11/20/2010 at the Klein Auditorium, Bridgeport CT

Originally posted 2010-11-21 10:43:59. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Chris Moore:

CLICK HERE to read the Review!

1)  “Who Needs Sleep”

2)  “The Old Apartment”

3)  “Falling for the First Time”

4)  “Jesse, Ben, and Tommy saw my balls” rap

5)  “Every Subway Car”

6)  “Leave”

7)  “Moonstone”

8)  “Another Heartbreak”

9)  “Maybe Katie”

10)  “Sound of Your Voice” (acoustic)

11)  “It’s All Been Done”

12)  “Too Little Too Late”

13)  “Brian Wilson”

14)  “You Run Away”

15)  “Four Seconds”

16)  “Big Bang Theory Theme”

17)  “One Week”

18)  “Pinch Me”

19)  “If I Had $1,000,000” (w/ “Raisins” by request)

20)  “Magic” Medley (“California Gurls,” etc.)

ENCORE:

21)  “Alcohol”

22)  “Lovers in a Dangerous Time”

23)  “Tonight is the Night I Fell Asleep at the Wheel”