There comes a time in a band’s life when they could easily ‘mail it in’.
When a few years pass since the initial hits send a group into the stratosphere, those hits are money in the bank. A band can rely on them to sell tickets and for the attendees; nostalgia feeds their souls. A win – win situation for all those involved.
Blue Rodeo are not one of those bands.
Not only has the band continued to produce great tunes, they also continue to work their asses off on stage. Add the fact they have evolved into much better musicians since their entry onto the charts, a Blue Rodeo show in 2019 is like a diamond mine.
One gem after another filled the room with life. From the get go last night at Place des Arts as part of The Montreal International Jazz Festival, energy was in the air. Perhaps some of the audience at Blue Rodeo attended Norah Jones’ polar opposite performance the night before and were ready to rock. Whatever the reason, 5 Days in May launched an already pumped audience into the sky. The band soon joined them in the second song.
Jim Cuddy and Greg Keelor rose to the occasion and the remainder of Blue Rodeo followed suit. Without words ( more like nods) – each member seemed to challenge one another to be their best. The duels were on and the punters were the winners.
Rain Down on Me saw Jim, seated at the piano, matching a Rufus Wainright moment with piercing vocals. Range and power. The type of vocal performance that makes hair stand on the back of a neck. Not long after – Keelor came close to elevating the hairs higher with his instantly recognizable tone on Diamond Mine. Cuddy and Keelor harmonizing or each one soloing, make no mistake about it, they are Canada’s Mick and Keef. Complimenting one another yet so unique in their styles and ideas.
The show contained many roots y elements. A little bit Country and a little bit Rock n Roll. Donny and Marie would be proud. The Railroad and Little Wine Drinker Me saw the band band together and inflict the audience with a lesson in real music. If auto-tune walked into the room, it would have been so ashamed of itself, it may have ended it’s stint as the champion of mainstream radio.
Bazil Donovan, Glenn Milchem , Mike Boguski and Colin Cripps are the exact players needed to compliment the songwriting team of Cuddy and Keelor. Each one shining when needed but allowing the ‘stars’ to shine. Rarely do you witness such craftsmanship within a band. Rarely do artists play their hearts out without showing their true talent due to a Blue Rodeo ‘formula’. Each member of Blue Rodeo can be a headliner on their own.
Try and Lost Together were the bookends in the encore. By that time, the band were ready to go another ten rounds but the crowd was exhausted from two massive sing a longs. In a troubled world with information screaming from every outlet, the vocal intensity within Lost Together from the crowd was fierce. The tune – more fitting now lyrically than ever before. The tune, a bridge between light and dark. The tune – not mailed in.