Blue Rodeo @ Place des Arts – 8th February 2017

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Now that the Tragically Hip have called it a day, Canada has to find another band to claim the throne of our national secret. Sure, no one is likely to become as much a part of the National fabric as Gord and his pals, but there are a few contenders. Great Big Sea, Big Wreck,Mathew Good and Sam Roberts Band come to mind, but likely the strongest claim lays with Blue Rodeo. “Lost Together” has probably been played at more Canuck weddings than “Wheat Kings” or “Bobcaygeon,” though likely because it’s a love song and not a tragedy.

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On this night, veteran opening act The Sadies took on the duties of warming up the crowd. I may have seen this band open for more acts than any others. If you’re a Canadian headlining touring band, odds are you’ve played with these gentlemen. These guys bring enough twang and Grand Ole Opry rock swagger that it mystifies me that Jack White hasn’t signed these guys to Third Man Records and brought them south. They delivered as they always do.

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The main event garnered an energy we don’t often see in the usually calm Place des Arts. They celebrated their 30 years by reaching back to their 1987 debut album to open the show with “Heart Like Mine.”

While the 1000 Arms Tour is a promotion of their new collection of the same name, it also very much felt like a celebration of a 3 decade career. While their new material was warmly welcomed and proved that they are still relevant and not simply resting on their laurels, it’s the classics that help carried the show.

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I honestly didn’t realize how many of their songs are ingrained in the greeat Canadian songbook. Classics like “Diamond Mine,” “Til I Am Myself Again,” “5 Days In May” and “Try” transcend their country roots and have made into the rock radio psyche. What’s incredible is that they sound better live. The band plays with a humble charm, reaching out to the audience and engaging with smiles and truly Canadian stories that lay behind the songs. The crowd bit and sang along to every one of them.

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Without being over the top, they brought a great energy. During the break before the encore, there was a buzz. In their previous show in Toronto, they had brought Gord Downie up to help them close the show with “Lost Together.” Rumors were swirling that Gord was in Montreal. This unfortunately didn’t materialize, but they did get the Sadies back out for the final song.

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There are songs which when heard live are an experience. To share them with a crowd and to sing along in harmony with a few hundred of thousand strangers is something beyond just music, it’s a moment which gets you hooked on live music. It’s Pearl Jam doing “Better Man,” Live doing “Lighning Crashes,” Weezer doing “Say It Aint So” or the Hip soing “Wheat Kings.” In that moment, you’re connected, every single person is connected to each other and to every word. “Lost Together” is one of those songs. Closing the night with it left the crowd on a high. A fitting end to a fantastic night of great music.

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Review – Richard Brunette
Photos –

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