Hedley is one of those Canadian acts that a big in their home country, but have not managed to make a dent internationally. That doesn’t seem to matter to their fans or the band themselves. At several points during the show band frontman Jacob Hoggard told those fans who packed the lower parts of the Bell Centre that they realized how lucky they were and how much they appreciated their fans. Around for roughly ten years they promised fans to be around for at least that many more.
On this the Hello Tour the band was backed up by two other Canadians – Carly Rae Jepsen and newcomer Francesco Yates. Jepsen has to battle every release and every night on the road, I’m sure, that she is not just the girl who sang “Call Me Maybe”. It is tough. Tough because most of her songs sound very similar and that song plus “Good Time” and “I Really Like You” really stand out from the rest. Still she was game to go at it trying to cover the entire stage alone. One of those rare pop songstresses working today that doesn’t do the whole back-up singers and troupe of dancers thing to fill up large arena stages. Both she and Hedley frontman came in third place on Canadian Idol a few years back (3rd season for Hoggard and 5th season for Jepsen), so you know they can both sing. Her pipes are not her problem. What Jepsen needs to work on is interacting with fans (though there were a few moments she did just that, especially when she brought two fans up on stage with her to dance and even sing a couple of times) in order to draw them into her show.
Francesco Yates was not a name I was familiar with. His 30-minute set was a pleasant surprise. He backs up his funky R&B songs with a solid voice, plenty of dance moves and that shock of bouncy, curly hair. He certainly was the surprise of the night for me. An impression was left especially when he did a more than adequate tribute to the recently deceased Prince on his set closer “Purple Rain”.
Hedley, Hoggard (vocals/acoustic guitar/keyboards), Chris Cripps (drums, acoustic guitar), Dave Rosin (electric and acoustic guitar) and Tommy Mac (bass), are the type of band that has had many hit singles over the years, but have never really caught my attention. This was my first time seeing them live. As someone who would not count herself as a fan of the band I have to say I was impressed. Impressed by the amount of hit singles they have in their catalogue, their pretty elabourate stage, the ardor of their fans and energy they dispense during their live shows. The band kicked things off with the song that is also the name of their tour “Hello”. As advertised, Hoggard is a mad man. A whirling dervish that covers the entire stage with his runs, dancing and twirling. And he kept that up throughout the entire near two hours of their set.
As for the recognizable songs they kept coming. Hoggard doesn’t have a blow you away voice, but it is strong and unique. He also knows what he is comfortable with and that wasn’t more obvious than when Hedley undertook a medley of big covers of the Major Lazer song “Lean On”, fellow Canadian Justin Bieber’s “Sorry” and Bruno Mars’ monster hit “Uptown Funk”. They were totally in his wheelhouse and showcased his voice. That was the only trip back to Hoggard’s Idol beginnings as the rest of the night focused on the songs from their latest album with the bigger numbers from their entire catalogue interspersed. They went deep as they even did songs that were recorded way back in 2005 like “Gunnin’”. Most of their songs are of the up tempo variety though they do have some strong slower ones. At these moments Hoggard manages to quiet himself and sit down at the piano. “For the Nights I Can’t Remember” was a standout.
Hedley has released six albums over their ten years and it was obvious from the first note that their fans are dedicated singing out the songs right along with Hoggard. Speaking of the crowd it was pretty diverse with some 40 and 50-somethings there who probably were fans from Hoggard’s from his Idol days all the way down to a few preteens. Most of the crowd were teenage girls who enjoyed screaming shrilly loudly and often. Based on the loudness of the screams and the amount of times cell phones lights lit up the dark Bell Centre I know that everyone, no matter what age, went home happy.
- Lost in Translation
- Don’t Talk to Strangers
- One Life
- Very First Time
- Never Too Late (With interlude of Lean On/Sorry/Uptown Funk)
- Can’t Slow Down
- For the Nights I Can’t Remember
- Heaven In Our Headlights
- Lose Control
- Villain/On My Own/Saturday
- Old School (With interlude of Unchained Melody)
- Kiss You Inside Out
- Crazy For You
Carly Rae Jepsen Set List:
- Run Away With Me
- Making the Most of the Night
- Good Time
- I Didn’t Just Come Here to Dance
- Boy Problems
- All That
- Your Type
- Let’s Get Lost
- Call Me Maybe
- I Really Like You