Blue Rodeo

blue rodeo live2Every time I attend a concert at Place des Arts I end up wondering why the act booked there. Was it simply their management team that did it not knowing of the building’s awful reputation when it comes to sound? Was it just the allure of playing in this ‘classy’ place? Whatever the reason I think it is my duty as a member of the media to tell all musical acts to think twice before doing it.

Now that I have gotten the sound issues out of the way (sound was a problem for Blue Rodeo on Saturday night), I can go about reviewing the show….

The night began a bit oddly…let me explain that. Cuff the Duke was the opening band and from the clothes they wore to the way they sounded it was like watching a younger version of Blue Rodeo. The similarities were eerie. Lead singer Wayne Petti’s voice even sounded like a young Jim Cuddy. Strange. That being said, they, with their alt-country sound, were the perfect opening band for Blue Rodeo. During the course of their 45 minute set, Cuff the Duke performed songs from their repertoire like “Follow Me”, “You Were Right”, “Rockin’ Chair”, and “It’s All a Blur”. Very complimentary sound and they did a great job getting the crowd warmed up for the headliners.

What is quite wonderful and comforting about this Canadian band is that you know what you are getting from them when you go see them live. There is plenty of pleasure to be taken in their consistency. You know that Jim Cuddy’s voice will wow you, you know that Greg Keelor will be chewing gum, you know that bassist Bazil Donovan does not move an inch, you know that Jim Cuddy will be wearing one of his black western shirts, you know that Greg Keelor will say “Thanks folks” at least once, and you know that at some point their catchy songs will have you up dancing. These things, and plenty more, are what you can expect from a Blue Rodeo show.

Despite the fact that as previously mentioned the sound was a little wonky and the seating found at Place des Arts is not really conducive to a show that wants you up dancing for the majority of it, Blue Rodeo battled on and won over the Montreal crowd (yet again) big time. It was a tribute to the band and their music that from the halfway point on (and especially with about one third of the show left when Greg Keelor invited people down to the front of the stage to dance) that most of the crowd stood up and danced along.

One of the many highlights of the show was when guest violinist Anne Lindsay performed an energetic solo during the song “5 Days in May”. The solo lasted several minutes and it never dragged. She was on fire and the crowd roared and stood in approval. Even on other songs (like the beautiful “Gossip”) she, flutist/vocalist Julie Fader and cellist Laing added interesting dimensions to now familiar songs.

The final song of the encore “Lost Together” was also great in that Blue Rodeo invited Cuff the Duke and the trio of females onstage to perform it all together. The celebratory nature of the 14 artists on stage together and the fact that the Montreal audience performed the first section of the song themselves acapella made for a magical finish.

I have always thought that lead singers Cuddy and Keelor were an interesting study in opposites, but much like McCartney and Lennon, they play well off each other. Keelor is more the raspy voiced rocker who enjoys playing long solos on his guitar and standing in the shadows, whereas Cuddy is continuously smiling and dancing around the stage while bowling you over with his smooth voice. Whatever their differences they make beautiful music together these two gentlemen do.

Set List:
1) Never Look Back
2) One Night
3) Rose-Coloured Glasses
4) After the Rain
5) Don’t Let the Darkness in Your Head
6) Head Over Heels
7) It Could Happen to You
8) One Light Left in Heaven
9) Blue House
10) All The Things That are Left Behind
11) 5 Days in May
12) Cynthia
13) And When You Wake Up
14) Gossip
15) Waiting for the World
16) Heart Like Mine
17) Trust Yourself
18) Hasn’t Hit Me Yet
19) Diamond Mine
20) Til I Am Myself
21) Montreal
22) Lost Together


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