BnL Live at the Klein, November 2010 – The Weekend Review

Originally posted 2010-11-21 12:24:32. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Chris Moore:

See the Set List HERE.

On the heels of my previous BnL concert review, posted little more than three months ago, there isn’t much more that needs to be said, other than to underscore several assertions concerning the Barenaked Ladies.

First, it really can never be too soon to see them play live again.  After seeing them in August with decent seats and having had an outstandingly fun time, I almost considered letting this second New England tour stopover pass me by.

Almost.

Being fortunate enough to live in an area that is located in, as a friend recently referred to it, the “Barenaked Belt,” it simply doesn’t make sense to not take advantage of it.  And, this time around, the venue was considerably smaller – Mohegan Sun Arena being 9500 capacity, and the Klein Auditorium being only 1400.  We sat front row balcony, or “mezzanine” as the theatre people say, and got some performances that probably wouldn’t find their way into a stadium set, songs like the rarely played “Moonstone” and “Tonight is the Night I Fell Asleep at the Wheel.”

A second assertion, and perhaps the main thrust of my August review, is that BnL is every bit as good as they were when Steven Page was in the band.  This is surprising, as he is such a unique talent and a man who brings considerable stage presence and energy to the live shows.

And, for the record, let’s be clear that I would love to see the five-man band reunited at some point down the road.

But, for now, the four-piece Barenaked Ladies are still a force to be reckoned with, and they have apparently decided that no catalog item is off limits, regardless of how much of a “Steven” song it is/was.  Take, for example, the fairly standard middle of their order, a veritable greatest hits of Steven Page tracks: “Sound of Your Voice,” “It’s All Been Done,” “Too Little Too Late,” and “Brian Wilson,” all topped off with the not-so-subtle “You Run Away.”

A third assertion is one that struck me early in the set last night: the Barenaked Ladies are the rare group of men that have gotten cooler as the years pass.  One needs only to compare their image and sound from the excellent and not-to-be-slighted Gordon era with their current stage show in order to appreciate just how cool they’ve become without losing too many fans to claims of selling out.

They have such a vast array of music, and to a certain degree, they allow for it in their set lists.  Although there are certain songs that you can reasonably expect (and in certain orders), there is room for adlibs and unexpected deep tracks, songs like those mentioned above.  Even songs that have been played about ten thousand times over their career, like “One Week,” have taken on a fresh appeal.  With Kevin Hearn singing the Page parts of “One Week” last night, I think they’ve finally perfected their recent live arrangement of this, their best-known composition.  Likewise, Tyler Stewart and Jim Creeggan have stepped up their game, Stewart bringing down the house with his reinvigorated, Jack Black-esque approach to “Alcohol” and Creeggan with his on-stage gesticulations, ear-to-ear grin, and acceptance of the spotlight for tracks like “On the Lookout” and “Peterborough and the Kawarthas.”

Finally, as if it needs to be said, Ed Robertson is a force unto himself.  His white man rapping helped to establish the band’s public image, and he is ever willing to put himself out there for a laugh.

When I choose the words “put himself out there,” I mean that literally.

Last night, as a tribute to their excellent opening act Jukebox the Ghost’s final night on tour, Robertson emerged from backstage with only a towel on.  Then, positioning himself between keyboardist/lead vocalist Ben Thornewill and the audience, he opened his towel so only Thornewill could see him and proceeded to dance to the music.  He moved around the stage and repeated this process for the other two band members.  Meanwhile, the crowd was laughing and clapping and screaming, and guitarist Tommy Siegel laughed his way through his vocals.

As Thornewill pointed out after the song, he could only see Robertson in his peripheral vision at first.  When he reached his hand out to pretend to tickle him, he found that Robertson was indeed wearing only a towel.

Never let it be said that the “Barenaked” part of their band name hasn’t been earned.

Forgive me for getting up on my soapbox yet again, but BnL continues to be one of the most underappreciated rock music acts of the modern age.  If you or someone you know hears “Barenaked Ladies” and instantly thinks “goofy,” “funny,” “If I Had $1,000,000,” and/or “One Week,” then check bnlmusic.com for a tour date in your area.  One show and you’ll be hooked.  Guaranteed.

I’ve been a fan now for over a decade, and they continue to recapture my interest and adoration each and every time I see them live.

As I climb off my soapbox, I bid you good day and hope this review might at least inspire a spin of Maroon or Stunt.  Or Gordon.  Or Maybe You Should Drive.  Or Everything to Everyone.  Or…

Well, you get the idea.

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.

“Friend of the Devil” (Grateful Dead Cover)

Originally posted 2010-02-11 00:10:00. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Jim Fusco:

Well, as promised, I’m back with your Wednesday edition of Jim Fusco Tuesdays!  Don’t understand that?  Then you should be visiting the blog more often! :-)  Tuesdays are my usual day to post, but unfortunately, I didn’t have my camera last night, so I had to put-off doing the video until today.  I also recorded another video for next week that you’re going to LOVE.  It’s from a guy you probably haven’t heard of, but he’s new to the blog and he’s a well-respected musician.  I guess you’ll have to wait in suspense until then!

I can’t believe it- this blog has been up for well over two years and there hasn’t been a Grateful Dead song done yet!  Late last year, I decided that I wanted to learn more about the Grateful Dead.  Back in high school and early college, I used to work at the now defunct Cheshire Video and Disc (a local video store).  I used to work with this hippy girl named Karen.  She was cool- we used to work on Sunday mornings together and always had a nice time.  She used to play this Grateful Dead VHS tape during our shift every week.  It was from the 80’s.  It was a trippy kind of concert- crazy 80’s video effects and extended drum solos.  But, I really enjoyed the songs.

Fast-forward about seven years to the present-day.  I finally got my Grateful Dead “Best Of” for Christmas from my mother in law and I was so excited to play it for the first time.  My boss had re-ignited my interest for the band, as he put a few of their songs on a mix CD for me.  So, I got the CD and played it at work for the first time.  I LOVED IT!!

It’s 17 songs and, believe me, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better overall “Best Of”.  It has all of my favorite elements: harmonies, good guitar, everyone plays their own instruments, and (my personal favorite) multiple band members writing songs!!  Actually, my favorite song on the whole “Best Of” CD (which I will definitely cover in the future) is “Box Of Rain”, written by bassist Phil Lesh.  (On another note, I hear he and former Dead member Bob Weir are now touring as “Furthur”, but the show in my hometown of Wallingford, CT is SOLD OUT!  Grrr….)

Anyway, there are so many great songs on this disc- from the ones you’ve heard of (and probably didn’t know they did them) like “Truckin'”, “Casey Jones”,  and “Touch of Grey” to the ones that you haven’t heard of yet, this is a top-to-bottom rare “Best Of” find.  The last times I felt this great about a “Best Of” was when I purchased the America and Doobie Brothers’ discs.  So, what I’m saying is, if you haven’t purchased the Grateful Dead “Best Of” (the one with 17 tracks- NOT the cheap 10-track version), then you should really give it a try.

Tonight’s song is “Friend of the Devil”.  At first, this wasn’t one of my favorites, but it’s catchy and the story is pretty cool, so it grew on me quickly.  I love singing it in that Jerry Garcia drawl.  Plus, this was an easy one to convert to acoustic.  Most of their songs aren’t so easy because of their great harmonies.  I’ve wanted to do so many of their songs, but it just won’t sound right without someone else singing with me (who knows the song really well, too).

So, whatever idea you had of the Dead (I thought it was just a stupid stoner band that jammed nonsensical songs for hours on end…which may be true for the live sets, as I’ve heard), throw it away!  They’re a tight band that last quite a while and came up with some great songs.  And now I’m even more excited that I can build my vinyl record collection with some of their interesting albums, such as their lone 60’s record (from 1967, which I’m INCREDIBLY interested in hearing) and their all-time classic from 1970, American Beauty.

Enjoy tonight’s LSHD video and make sure to come back next week for my newest obsession in music!



“Choose Your Words (Carefully)” (Original song by Jim Fusco) – The Open Mic Sessions

Originally posted 2013-09-11 08:00:36. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Jim Fusco:

Welcome, everyone, to the first installment of the Open Mic Sessions, where I’ll bring you my performances of my original songs from various open mic nights.  The video will be a bit choppy, the sound won’t be perfect, and there usually aren’t too many people in the crowd, but it’s been a lot of fun for me to do these, so I wanted to share my original song performances with the world!

Today’s video is of my song, “Choose Your Words (Carefully)” from my 2012 album, “Those Around Us”.  I think I’ve received a great response to this song every time I play it live.  People either relate to the words…or just find the chorus catchy. :-)  Either way, it’s been one of my favorites to play and is always the standby song for when someone says, “Play one more!”

This video was taken by my brother Mike at Sam Ash music store in New Haven, CT on April 3rd, 2013.  As you can probably tell, there wasn’t much of a crowd…but the staff sure seemed to like it!  Sometimes, even if there isn’t a big audience, it’s still cool to hear your original song amplified like that.  There’s something empowering about that.

I hope you enjoy tonight’s video and stay tuned each week for more videos from the Open Mic Sessions!