Concert Review: The Barenaked Ladies

Not a million-dollar performance

According to an Orchestra London poster, the Barenaked Ladies’ show at Centennial Hall on Friday night was supposed to be the “hottest ticket in London,” but the famous foursome didn’t entirely live up to such high expectations.

Beginning the show with hits including “Lovers in a Dangerous Time” and “Another Postcard,” the band garnered the most excitement when they played “Big Bang Theory Theme,” which they made for CBS’ sitcom. Other songs performed on Friday included “Pinch Me” and “One Week,” until they closed with “If I Had $1,000,000,” the latter of which featured an excellent violin solo from an orchestra member.

When forty-something lead singer Ed Robertson joked about his old age, this fazed neither the middle-aged couples cozy in the balcony’s plush seats, nor the other patrons enjoying pitchers of beer while sitting around tables in the mezzanine. The band joked about the unusual seating arrangement by announcing “the next number is B9,” as if they were bingo callers.

Among the many jokes cracked throughout was Ed’s suggestion that they pass around a wireless microphone to each member of the orchestra, so they can say what an honour it is to play with the Barenaked Ladies. Albeit a poor testament to the band’s comedic expertise, the crowd seemed amused.

Ed repeatedly said, “we love our visits to the 519,” but inadequately demonstrated appreciation for London fans. The band didn’t do anything particularly elaborate for Londoners. At Toronto concerts, fans are wooed by improvised renditions of catchy jingles, and such surprises as a special appearance by David Suzuki onstage, whereas nothing remotely comparable was done at Centennial Hall. Nothing beats a concert where the performers genuinely feel most at home.

The amount of lighting in Centennial Hall worsened the experience.  The Barenaked Ladies’ mass appeal is fundamental to their long-term career and presumably most concert-goers would rather focus on Ed’s handsomeness—or talent—and everything happening on stage rather than on fellow patrons in the audience.

Fortunately, the Barenaked Ladies redeemed themselves with a fun medley in the encore featuring about five to 10 songs ranging from Flo Rida’s “Good Feeling” and Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know” to “Forever Young” by Bob Dylan. However, including “Call Me Maybe” felt like a cop out here, as it lacked creativity and was already sung by The Arkells at Western Fair in September.

Although most remained in their seats for the show’s approximately two-hour-long duration, there were some exceptional women in the crowd—women who refused to sit stiffly listening to silly lyrics, opting instead to have mini dance parties beneath exit signs.

The Barenaked Ladies may have lost their original lead singer, Steven Page, but they performed their kooky music in an atmosphere that was hardly short on high spirits.

Originally published in The Gazette.

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2 Comments

  • Reply Stephen Colbert’s 3 Favourite Things | Hot On The Street January 9, 2014 at 7:41 PM

    […] constraints. The former Friends star then announced that The Big Bang Theory (the show with a Barenaked Ladies theme song) was named Favourite Network TV […]

  • Reply OHM Fashion Show | Hot On The Street March 16, 2013 at 8:31 PM

    […] Hall look much nicer than the bingo hall it resembled when I saw Chantal Kreviazuk and the Barenaked Ladies play […]

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