The night started off with Erin Costelo, who is currently promoting her 5th studio album Sweet Mary. I’d heard the name many times but had never actually seen Erin perform—what a mistake! Playing originals reminiscent of the Band and the Stones, I really enjoyed each tune, her banter, and what each musician had to offer.
She played most tunes on an electric piano with drums, bass, electric guitar (her husband!) and an organ player. The arrangements were tight with Erin’s Rhodes/Wurlitzer sounds always taking the lead, and fiery solos from guitar or organ when needed.
Favourite Moment: Non-stop slide, slaps, and flourishes by the grinning hammond organ player.
Favourite Song: “The Sign,” from her new record.
Anticipation was in the air as Blue Rodeo hit the stage. It was nice to see them wrap up their final tour in the same way they started, with only bass, drums, piano, electric, and Jim Cuddy and Greg Keelor at the front. Though I did sometimes miss famous parts by a lapsteel or background singer, it was nice to see them in such a raw and simple format.
Cheers exploded as they hit the first few notes of “5 Days in May.” Truthfully, it was a bit of a rocky start, with some questionable note choices in the piano solo, and a mismatched Keelor (acoustic) versus Cripps (electric) solo. But the crowd chanted along to each word, and the band seemed to catch their stride by the third tune, “I Can’t Hide This Anymore,” where Cuddy and Keelor did the two-to-a-mic Beatles thing with lots of success.
The rest of the set was a smattering of tunes by both frontmen. Top moments included a lengthy and ripping hammond solo in “Rain Down On Me,” a quiet and intimate piano ballad from Keelor on “Candice,” Cuddy singing incredible falsettos while playing an old Wurlitzer, and the crowd belting out to the Cuddy classics.
The encore was a lot of fun, with the bassist common up front to cover a honkeytonk version of Dean Martin’s “Little Ole Wine Drinker Me,” a devastating version of “Try,” and “Lost Together,” which fans had screamed for all night. This was a great way to end the night, with Costelo’s entire band coming out to sing backgrounds, and Erin belting out the second verse.
All in all, it was a great way to see a great group player their final Canadian tour. While it was a little rough around the edges at times, I was reminded of the great contribution that Blue Rodeo has had to Canadiana folk rock. This is a style that has been perfected so much in the past three decades that we are used to the tight and perfect arrangements that permeate the style.
Yet, this concert gave me (and hopefully the rest of the theatre) a moment to admire the forefathers who helped make this style of music special to Canadians. I’m a firm believer that artists like The Weakerthans, Jim Bryson, Kathleen Edwards, and Bahamas just simply wouldn’t sound the way they do without Blue Rodeo.
5 Days in May
What Am I Doing Here
I Can’t Hide This Anymore
Rain Down On Me
Head Over Heels
The Railroad (Lee Hazlewood cover)
After the Rain
Til I Am Myself Again
Hasn’t Hit Me Yet
Little Ole Wine Drinker Me (Dean Martin cover)