On a perfect late summer night in the Old Port of Montreal Blue Rodeo, who usually do their annual summer outdoor concert in Montreal at Bourbon Street North, came into town and gave us another night of great music. It was an entire evening and night of music as it started at 6 p.m. with Joel Plaskett and then Kathleen Edwards to warm the crowd up. Blue Rodeo stepped on stage at 8:45 with little fanfare and what everyone in the crowd was there to see began. The Old Port is a relatively new venue for the band (having played there just once before for a Canada Day celebration), but they are a perfect band for this type of venue. They excel outdoors! It seems as if their music was made to be sung outside, under the stars with a nice breeze coming off the water. For exactly 2 hours roughly 2,000 people were a ‘typical’ Blue Rodeo crowd with their beers raised, singing along with their arms around whomever they came with swaying in time to the music. Blue Rodeo seems to bring out that closeness or camaraderie in their crowds.
I have been going to Blue Rodeo concerts for most of my adult life and it never gets dull seeing them. They have the uncanny ability to bring fun and freshness to songs no matter how many times you have heard them performed live. It’s part good music, great lyrics, good musicianship and a whole lot of the band truly enjoying what they do. Right from the beginning as co-lead vocalist/guitarist Greg Keelor stepped on stage you knew it was going to be a good one. He seems to really love performing in Montreal and the crowds (he even said that he does not usually wear his glasses on stage because their audiences are usually ugly, but he was going to on this night because it was a good looking crowd) that come out to see the band here. Right from the start he was talkative (for Greg) saying more than his usual “Thanks a lot, folks” and dancing around on certain numbers. The band has their shows down to a science. Jim Cuddy and Greg Keelor trade back-and-forth lead vocals, the band wears their western shirts and Levis jeans, and the crowd always leads off the song “Hasn’t Hit Me Yet” by singing alone to the band playing. Whatever they do it never gets old – not them, not their music, and definitely not seeing them perform live.
This show was definitely a greatest hits type evening with the band playing all their best-known songs and crowd favourites. Greg and Jim are planning to release solo efforts next so their will not be another Blue Rodeo studio album for awhile, so an evening like this was meant to tide us, the fans, over until then. The band was really loose as they launched into a number of long jams in the middle of songs. Greg and Jim were both in good voice with Jim sounding better than I have heard him in a while. He really used his great falsetto on numbers like “After the Rain” and “Try”.
I don’t know if it was the location, the weather or the fact that they enjoy playing in Montreal, but it definitely was one of the better Blue Rodeo concerts I have seen in a long time. The outdoors seems to be a perfect fit for Blue Rodeo’s distinct brand of rock/alt-country music. Just a thought for the concert promoters/organizers in Montreal, but it struck me and others that Friday night outdoor concerts at the Old Port is a perfect way to end the workweek. Please, look into that for next summer?
1) ‘Til I Am Myself Again
2) Rose-Coloured Glasses
3) Better Off As We Are
4) Side of the Road
5) What Am I Doing Here
7) Bad Timing (with Kathleen Edwards)
8) Head Over Heels
9) 5 Days in May
10) Lost Together (dedicated to Chantal from Warner)
12) Walk Like You Don’t Mind
13) After the Rain (Jim Cuddy on piano)
14) Diamond Mine
15) Hasn’t Hit Me Yet
17) Heart Like Mine
18) Love and Understanding