Barenaked Ladies Unstoppable in NYC 7-1-15 w/ Colin Hay & Violent Femmes

last summer tour slide - Barenaked Ladies Unstoppable in NYC 7-1-15 w/ Colin Hay & Violent Femmes

Barenaked Ladies Unstoppable in NYC 7-1-15 w/ Colin Hay & Violent Femmes

Doomsday is coming, or at least Canada’s Barenaked Ladies think so. Always tongue-in-cheek in their approach, the Alternative Rock band hit the road again this Summer for what they dubbed the Last Summer on Earth Tour. Teaming up with a few of the Alternative scene’s classic artists, Violent Femmes and Men at Work’s Colin Hay, the tour hit thirty plus venues across the USA between June 15th and July 26th leaving fans completely satisfied if it really was the last Summer on Earth. Amidst it all, they made a trip into New York City just days prior to the Independence Day weekend when they set to perform at JBL Live at Pier 97 Wednesday July 1st. Located at Hudson River Park, the venue is a mere year old and, within that time, has become the hot spot for Summer concerts in The Big Apple. With the area packed with food, drink, and most of all fans, the sky was clear, the weather was mild, making it a perfect night for music.

Opening up the show was Scottish/Australian Colin Hay. Attaining a mass of success during the 1980’s fronting Men at Work, Hay became known as one of the most distinctive voices of the era as the band mixed Pop Rock, Reggae Rock, and New Wave. While Men at Work have not released a studio record since 1985’s Two Hearts, the band has remained active with reunion shows here and there in recent years. Fortunately, fans of the boys from Down Under have been able to rely on Hay for new music, beginning with his solo debut Looking for Jack in 1987, and now in 2015 he returns with his twelfth overall album, Next Year People. A treat for all who missed Hay’s appearance in New York City back in February, everyone was ready to go as he took to the stage.

Opening the show with fan-favorite Men at Work cut “Overkill,” Hay quickly got into a groove. Initially a track that contains some soothing saxophone and full instrumentation, Hay broke it down acoustically and carried the song beautifully. Going right into new song “If I Had Been A Better Man,” Hay strummed his guitar and belted out notes that mirrors those from earlier days, showing he has not lost a step over time. Moving right along, Hay broke into the song that fans have adored for years, Men At Work’s “Down Under.” Catching some off guard as he began to play the melody on the guitar, as soon as the words kicked in cheers began and everyone had their phones in the air ready to capture video. Having everyone roaring for more, he rounded out his set with 1994’s “Waiting for My Real to Begin” and title-track off his latest, “Next Year People,” where Barenaked Ladies Kevin Hearn came out to join in. Hay will return to New York City November 19th, and this time will a full set for fans to dive into, so do not miss this extraordinary musician.

Up Next, hailing from the land of cheese, also known as Wisconsin, was the one and only Violent Femmes. Initially coming together back in 1980, the band’s style ranges anywhere from Punk Rock to Country, but above it all, are a signature of the Alternative scene. With connections to The Pretenders, having been discovered by guitarist James Honeyman-Scott in 1981, Violent Femmes went on to build a name for themselves before the release of their self-titled debut in 1983. Releasing seven more records up until the year 2000, the band has had their share of reunions, and as of 2013, original members Gordon Gano (lead vocals, guitars, violin) and Brian Ritchie (bass, backing vocals, shakuhachi, xylophone, keyboards) have teamed up with new drummer Brian Viglione of Dresden Dolls. Returning to New York City for the second time in less than two months, fans were happy to see the fun-loving band back on stage performing.

Wasting no time to turn heads, they opened with their cult hit “Blister in the Sun” which immediately set the pace of the show. With fans singing along right off the bat, they went into another favorite with 1983’s “Kiss Off.” As Gano stood front and center, Viglione set off to the left and Ritchie to the right, the three-piece jammed away as they went into new songs “Good For/At Nothing” and “Love Love Love Love Love.” Dancing through their discography, they surprised dedicated fans with tracks like “Jesus Walking on the Water,” “Country Death Song,” and “American Music” where Hearn once again popped out to join in the performing.  Full of life and projecting positive vibes, they continued along and went into the crowd rousing “Gone Baby Gone” which showcased Richie’s xylophone skills while Barenaked Ladies’ Jim Creeggan popped out to lend a hand on bass. As they closed out the set with “Add It Up,” twenty-five year old Blaise Garza was highlighted on the massive contrabass saxophone, adding a rich sound to the track. Introduced by Gordon, who stated Garaza has been performing live with Violent Femmes since the age of fourteen, his talents show why he has become an accepted member of the band.

All in all, Violent Femmes put on a very complete and satisfying performance. Adding intrigue to the band, their fan base continues to grow, with long-time followers and the younger generation equally interested in their music. There is something to be said for the longevity of the band and their songs, and that is why it is great to see them back in action.

Following the two supporting acts, it was time for Barenaked Ladies. Together now a few years shy of three decades, the band has sold over fifteen million records, including albums and singles. On top of that, they have been nominated, and won, countless awards in a variety of categories ranging from best group, to best single, to best album, to even best children’s album. While Lead Vocalist/Guitarist Steven Page departed from the group back in 2009, the core of Vocalist/Guitarist Ed Robertson, Bassist Jim Creeggan, Keyboardist Kevin Hearn, and Drummer Tyler Stewart continue on strong, keeping the Barenaked Ladies alive. Returning in 2015 with their fourteenth studio record titled Sliverball, Barenaked Ladies came to JBL Live at Pier 97 on Canada Day armed with songs for the Last Summer on Earth.  

Staying true to their unorthodox form, Robertson immediately started the show talking to the crowd about their appearance on Good Morning America earlier that day at, as he put it, “Ass o’clock,” to describe how early in the morning it was. Showing no signs of fatigue for being up so early, they then opened the performance with new track “Get Back Up” and 1996’s “Old Apartment.”  Keeping the mood upbeat, they followed with 2013’s “Odds Are” and the mellow acoustic number “Gonna Walk.”  As Hearn sat behind his piano, Stewart jammed behind his drum kit, and Creeggan interchanged between bass guitar and stand-up bass, Robertson led the bunch as fans swayed along to the music. With so many songs to choose from, the band mixed up a set of old and new as they went on into “Toe to Toe,” “Brian Wilson,” and “Narrow Street” where Creeggan took lead vocals. Slapping his stand-up bass, he provided smooth, clean vocals as Hearn backed him up strongly.

Shifting gears, the band welcomed Hay back onto the stage along with Garza to play a full band rendition of Men at Work’s “Who Can It Be Now.” As the saxophone stood strong, as in the original recording, Garza did a fine job covering the parts of the late great Greg Ham. Having everyone applauding loudly, the set went back to Silverball tunes like “Here Before,” “Passcode,” and the album titled track. All very uplifting tracks, fans welcomed the performance whether they had purchased the record yet or not. Blasting back to the past, they treated the audience to 1998 with “Light Up My Room” before another newer piece, “Did I Say That Out Loud?” Bouncing around the stage and entertaining the audience, they went into recent fan-favorite “Duct Tape Heart” as many fans were seen singing along.

Welcoming Hay back out, he join on guitar and vocals for 2000 hit single “Pinch Me.” Mixing together like musicians who have worked with one another for years, the audience was delighted to see Hay’s varied appearances with Barenaked Ladies on stage. Taking a moment to talk to the audience, they explained the next song was in fact one they wrote for a television program, and that is in fact the theme to the Big Bang Theory. Massively popular, pretty much everyone knew the words and willingly sang along to each word. Going over very well, they moved along with Creeggan opening “One Week” with a killer display on bass guitar. A quintessence song of the late ’90s, the quirky lyrics still remain fresh and fun as no one could stand still and sing with Robertson. Wrapping up the set was the anthem of the working man, “If I Had $1,000,000” came before the signature medley where Hearn sang brightly and Robertson improvised some Rap as they sprinkled in snippets of hits like Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off,” Mark Ronson’s “Don’t Believe It Just Watch,” Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,”  Idina Menzel Frozen tune “Let it Go,” and so much more. Thanking a broad range of people, they exited briefly only to return with the children’s song “Drawing” where Stewart jumped out from behind his drums to move about the stage, singing through into Led Zeppelin’s “Rock and Roll.”

Sent off by a sea of cheers, deservedly, all four members of Barenaked Ladies bowed and said goodnight. With a set of songs that covered all areas of their career, Barenaked Ladies did what they do best, entertain. Displaying an ability to improvise on the spot, their live show is like none other. While the North American leg of the tour may be over, Barenaked Ladies will now turn their attention to the UK in the Fall and back to their home country through November. Now fans just hope this was not really the last Summer on Earth so the band will return to New York soon.

Reporting & Photo credit: Charles Eames Photography

Like the in-depth, diverse coverage of Cryptic Rock? Help us in support to keep the magazine going strong for years to come with a small donation.

Recommended For You

Avatar
CrypticRock
[email protected]
No Comments

Post A Comment

Show Buttons
Hide Buttons