Two concerts in two nights, that’s a good week! The previous night, concert wingman Bryan and I saw Dustin Bentall & Lindi Ortega @ Maxwell’s Music House in Waterloo and now Blue Rodeo @ Kitchener’s Centre In The Square. At last count this was about Blue Rodeo show number 26 or 27 for me (over the course of fourteen years).
On this particular occasion Canada’s favorite roots-rockers are in the midst of a six week cross Canada tour to celebrate their 25th anniversary. That is an impressive milestone and they have certainly become a part of the soundtrack to the lives of most Canadians. Their induction into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame last year has done nothing to show any signs of retirement. They released a comprehensive early years box set late last year, are on tour now and have a new album in the works due out hopefully in the fall.
So how does this show stack up to the couple dozen I’ve already seen? Well, let me say something first; this is a different Blue Rodeo. Over the years they’ve seen numerous line-up changes but the core has remained constant since Lost Together in 1992. Longtime friend and collaborator Colin Cripps has joined the band on electric guitar. The Reader’s Digest version of why; Greg has been dealing with some hearing problems for the last couple years and so to prevent any further damage he chooses to stick to acoustic guitar. When I saw BR a year or so ago Greg was only able to play part of the show. At least now he can play the entire duration. Any concerns I had about Colin filling Greg’s shoes in the lead guitar department were quickly put to rest. He was amazing. While still being true to the original guitar parts he does bring a bit of his own flavour to the songs. And it was so good to hear “Till I Am Myself Again” played on a Rickenbacker as it was intended.
But I am getting ahead of myself. BR did a two set show without any opener. The first set was a little shorter than the second at about 45 minutes and the second opened with a sit down acoustic session. There was of course all the obligatory hits; “Try”, “Lost Together”, “Hasn’t Hit Me Yet”, “Lost Together” and so on. Because this tour was a celebration of their 25 year career so far they dug out some gems. The highlight of the show for me was finally getting to her “Piranha Pool” done live. Wow!! They also played 1988’s “How Long” for the first time since almost 1988. Another highlight was “Diamond Mine”. I have a love-hate reaction to this song. I’ve seen BR perform it at virtually every show and it has been good and terrible. On this occasion it was absolutely amazing. Michael Boguski’s keys rivaled Bobby Wiseman’s from back in the day.
My only complaint is that I had hoped to see a little more of a retrospective given that this was billed as an anniversary tour. Yes there was lots from the Outskirts album which was awesome and not typical. There was lots from the Five Days album as there always is. Nothing from Nowhere To Here, Tremolo, Days In Between, Palace of Gold, Small Miracles. I had hoped for at least a song from each album. That said, the band was on as they usually are and there were enough goodies to make the show stick in my memory.
Bryan and I got to hang out with the band after the show and Bryan was thrilled to finally meet Greg Keelor. Have a look at the pictures below.