I was in university when Our Lady Peace was first hitting it big. Their second album, Clumsy, was their first that I’d heard, and I thought it was pretty great. So did a lot of other people – I went to more shows back then, and I tried to keep track of who was coming to town and when, but by the time I heard OLP was making a stop at Louis’, it was too late. They sold out in about an hour. I was disappointed – even then, they were too popular to play a venue that small, so it would have been a fairly unique show. But I got over it – they’re Canadian, which meant they’d be back and I’d get my chance. And back they came, many times, and I never once bothered to go.
I know I’ve told this story before, but I get to tell it again because this is my review. Besides, for once, it’s relevant. Maybe. Between OLP, last year’s Stone Temple Pilots concert and the upcoming Public Enemy show that I may or may not bother with, it’s been quite the year for shows that I should have seen many years ago.
…and that’s about where I thought this review might end. Trying to break a bit of writer’s block I encountered while forcing out the Conan O’Brien review, I wrote out the backstory behind my history (or lack thereof) with Our Lady Peace concerts to use as the start of this review. And that’s when work went kablooie. As in, "stay late most nights and stay overnight one night" kablooie. As in, "enough overtime to double my take-home on this pay period" kablooie. As in, "try to give away the ticket to Our Lady Peace that I bought five months ago" kablooie.
But it didn’t happen. I didn’t think I’d have much luck finding someone to go with me to the show, and I found that I could sit in the front row if I was only buying one ticket, so that’s what I bought. And when it came time to give the ticket away, there were no takers. People aren’t all about going to shows by themselves – and really, I’m not either. It just happens that way sometimes. Point being, with an all-nighter at work looming, I still had my ticket on the day of the show. So I figured that if I was going to stay overnight anyway…
The funny part is that I’m really not much of an Our Lady Peace fan. I liked Clumsy a lot back when it came out, but that was 1997. Since then, I’ve stayed mostly current with their singles – in Canada, it’s hard to avoid doing so – but I haven’t listened to any of their albums in a long time. Luckily, this show was basically designed for me. The first set was going to be Clumsy from start to finish. The second set was to be essentially a live greatest-hits collection. This was not a show to reward the hardcores, it was for the lapsed, casual fan. Really, it was the show I would have loved to see at Louis’ way back when.
So I worked from 8:15 until about 6:45, went home, showered, changed, and got to the Conexus Arts Centre just in time for the show to start at 8:00. Didn’t look at the stuff table, didn’t have much in the way of witty banter (I did see and briefly chat with Jeff, but I don’t think I was particularly amusing), so there really isn’t much to write about, which makes me wonder why it took me so long to sit down and write this.
As mentioned, I was front row, as far to the right as possible. This put me right in front of a big ol’ speaker. I was concerned that it would kill my old man ears, and the fact that the first noise was a blast of static from some video they were playing did not help much. The music itself was loud but not painfully so, and the bass rumbled my seat in a pleasing massage-like effect. Was delightful after a hard day of sitting and pretending to write sales proposals.
As advertised, the first set consisted of Clumsy in its entirety. And it was… fine, I suppose. There wasn’t a lot of life from either the band or the crowd. A lot of people sitting there, listening to songs, clapping and cheering when it was polite to do so. I wouldn’t say it was bad, by any stretch, but there was nothing really special about it. It was a bit of a letdown, since that was the part of the show I was really there to see. I’d list the songs they played but you can go look up the album’s tracklist if you really care.
Next up came a long intermission. You’ll be pleased to know that I set a new personal best in BrickBreaker. I really need to get a second game on my BlackBerry.
The intermission ran on for long enough – and work was weighing on my mind enough – and BrickBreaker is dull enough – that I thought about just skipping out on the rest of the show. But I didn’t, because I am an intrepid reporter who will stop at nothing to bring you all the details of bands you don’t care about playing shows you weren’t at. Plus, I paid for this ticket. That was enough to get me to the concert hall and enough to keep me there.
And I’m really glad I stayed. Within the first moments of the second set, Raine Maida declared that we were in for a fuckin’ rock show, and it was like a switch went off. The band played harder, the crowd all stood and went nuts (except me because I am NO FUN), and it was a blast. I got tons of singles that I knew, though I couldn’t tell you too many titles. It was a lot of "ohh, that one, I remember that one" with "and I like that one!" added on to some. One-Man Army was particularly awesome. I am quite familiar with the song, but hadn’t heard it in a long time and was never a huge fan – and I was blown away by the performance. So I went home and downloaded it, and… yeah. I’ll stick to the live version.
The other song I was hoping for (knowing that we weren’t likely to get Whatever, the WWE entrance theme for Canadian icon and double-murderer Chris Benoit) was Naveed, off their debut album of the same name. Not only was it fantastic too, but in the middle of it, it somehow became Kids by MGMT, which I thought was a cool touch. Jeff later said they’ve been doing that since at least last summer, but it was new to me and that’s all that matters. And the crowd loved it – so much so that I really thought they should have ended with it. Instead, we got one more song – their new single, which I assume is called All You Did Was Save My Life – and it was good and all, but I would have switched the order.
With that I ducked out and missed the encore. According to Jeff, they played three songs: Angels Losing Sleep, In Repair, and Starseed. I know the last two, and would have liked to hear them, but I had to get back to work, and didn’t feel like fighting traffic. And as good as the second set was, it wasn’t enough to convert me into a lifelong OLP fan, and I’d had about my fill. I went back to the office and was there until about 11:30 the following evening, with a brief shower-and-change break in there around 6:00 a.m. I’ll take it; exhaustion-induced euphoria is still euphoria, after all.
I went into the show with low expectations and they were pleasantly exceeded. It wasn’t really worth staying overnight at work for, but that likely would have happened regardless. Would I go see them again? Well, if the price was right, and the timing and circumstances worked out, I’d consider it. Having said that, I missed them back when I really wanted to see them, and it took me about 14 years to make up for it, so clearly, they were pretty low on the priority list as it is. But I did have a fine time at the show, and I’m glad that I can finally check them off the big list of bands that I need to see someday.
Trolling a local used bookshop recently, I found three (cheap!) CDs that had to come home. They appear to be freebie 3-song sampler discs of Canadian bands tossed into cases of beer sometime in 2004. All three bands had albums coming out that year, too, so there’s some advertising value there as well.
The ones I found were still in their shrink-wrapping, too. Interesting. I wonder why whomever found them didn’t at least play them once… I’m not sure if there are others in the series, but I got Sum 41, Our Lady Peace and the Tragically Hip.
I played the Sum 41 disc first (by virtue of it being on the top of the pile). I can’t really comment on the music here, as I haven’t made a great effort to listen to this band in general to date. It sounds to me like generic pop-punk with snot-nosed lyrics, and an occasional acoustic guitar thrown in to make people think they have depth. Green Day Of The North. Still, it was fun enough to play these songs and I didn’t hate them. I just can’t imagine playing it a lot.
Next up was the Our Lady Peace disc. I don’t know why, but I have never really liked this band. I mean, their first album was acceptable, at the time, but I just never got too excited about them after that. I think the singer’s voice, which is quite grating and nasally annoying, that puts me off their stuff in general. Their disc in this series sounds, to me, like typical OLP, so for fans I’m sure this was great. There was some suspect ‘live crowd sounds’ on the ‘concert’ tracks that just sounded like they were added later in a studio. Weak. I once read that OLP was bigger than the Hip in this country, and I say bollocks to that. This disc was fine, but it ain’t for me.
Lastly I played the Hip, and it made the other two seem like a warm-up. Sure, I’m biased, but I’m also right. So there. First we get a pre-In Between Evolution album track, followed by two live tracks (and they actually sound like they were recorded on the date given). Gordie does some of his babbling, the guitars are intricate and gorgeous and, like every live Hip track I’ve heard, they make me wish I was at a Hip show. Right now.
So yah, of the three, I liked the Hip’s disc the best, but from them I knew what to expect and I got it. The other two were OK, but nothing to get all hot and bothered about, really. All deference to the other bands themselves. I’m sure that beer-sponsored money came in handy.
02 Over My Head (Better Off Dead)
03 No Brains
Our Lady Peace
01 Do You Like It (live)
02 In Repair (live)
03 Not Afraid (previously unreleased)
01 Heaven Is A Better Place Today
02 Bobcaygeon (live 6-21-03)*
03 Music @ Work (live 6-21-03)
*listed on this package as “In Bobcaygeon.”