Barenaked Ladies Fill the Trop


 

 

The first time I saw the Barenaked Ladies or BNL in concert, It was with my pre-teen daughter on a Father and Daughter excursion to Universal Studios in Orlando during their yearly Spring Mardi Gras celebration. One of the crowning moments of this event on Saturday night was a concert by a band that evokes fun and dancing from the assembled crowd. And I had done a bit of musical research before buying the tickets to the after hours concert put on that evening by the Barenaked Ladies.

 

What I remembered most about that 1 ½ hour musical adventure was the way the band used an up-beat tempo and a catchy set of guitar riffs to keep the crowd motivated and dancing throughout the concert. What I got that night was one of the greatest memories with my then pre-teen daughter, plus a bit of flirting with a girl dressed up in a flamingo costume. The woman flirting with me was great, but the smile on my daughter’s face was priceless that night, and that memory still warms me up today.


 

So when the Tampa Bay Rays announced that the BNL were going to be part of the 2010 Rays/Hess Express Saturday Night Concert Series, I was immediately transformed back to that time, with hope of not only reliving that great evening in Orlando, but to expand on it and make it burst with a musical explosion. The band did not disappoint me that evening as they were just as exciting and as exuberant as the first moment I saw then stroll onto stage what seemed so long ago. Some people call BNL a Canadian alternative band, but they are of a musical fusion all their own.


 

Their music is tempered with bits of Jazz and Blues and mixed vigorously with plenty of different string instruments from electric guitars to the authentic bass to becoming the first band to use technology to promote themselves. Barenaked Ladies were the first band to use a floppy disc as a “Interactive Press Kit”.

 

In 2003, they initiated a band blog, with band member Ed Robinson also providing pod casts to the website to keep their fans informed on some of the bands antics and travels, including the band’s first trip on a cruise. But BNL were also at the forefront of the social network revolution having a Myspace, Facebook and Twitter account to keep the juices flowing with their fans with multiple updates and ideas thrown out there for the fans to interact with the band.

 

They were also one of the first recording artists to utilize the USB technology by offering their 2004 “Barenaked For the Holidays” album on a customized flash drive in the MP3 format. Even if they might be considered a technology savvy band, it is their stage presence that has mesmerized their faithful fans for so long.

It is not unusual for the band to have a set list in pencil with additions and deletions right up to the moment they hit the stage, also complete with impromptu rap songs and humorous banter between numbers.

 

This moment was perfectly captured on Saturday night when BNL lead singer ED Robinson let the crowd know that the Rays needed a win, and who did they call, but the Barenaked Ladies to the rescue. That classic moment had me laughing and really enjoying the whole Barenaked experience, the band, not the unclothed part.

It was great to hear “One Week” again, but I still have a feeling most people associate the song with Jim’s dance sequence on the web cam to Nadia in American Pie than remember the song just for its own merits. But the catchy riffs and wording catch you instantly bopping along and trying to keep up with the truly over the speed limit tempo and rhythm of the song. Partner that with their classic hit “If I Had a $1000000“, and you got the makings of a great evening on your hands. Most people below the Canadian border might not know about their numerous Juno Awards, but might remember their Grammy nominations during the 1990′s.

 

There were other hits I heard that night that had escaped my mind when reviewing them in April like “The Old Apartment” and “Pinch Me“, but the night was made for good natured fun and frolicking, and BNL achieved that and more. The set really did not seem that long, but it did flood my mind with a great collection of instant video flashbacks and memorable moments. Bass Guitarist Jim Creegan is still one of the best in the business, and the talents of Kevin Hearn from the piano to the keyboards to the guitar simply made the evening a success.


 

But it was the vocals of Robinson, who took over the lead singer gig after one of the founding members, Steven Page left the band that sealed the deal for me that night. Even with a active storm front about to hit the Tampa Bay region right as the concert ended, the band kept the crowd into the music and totally forgetting about some of the things going on around them. And that is what great music is suppose to be about. It is suppose to make you leave your everyday struggles and trails for a few moments and relax, stress-free and enjoy the times of your life.

 

 

 The last time I saw the band my daughter and I lost her mother a short time later to melanoma cancer,but every time I hear the band’s music since then, it has reminded me of that special day with my daughter. One I will never get back, but one that was based in Barenaked Ladies music.

There are more Rays/Hess Express Saturday Night Concert Series photos on my new Flickr.com page under Rays Renegade. All photos are selected for the public, and feel free to download or even print them if you desire. I did this to give people an additional way to enjoy the Rays concert series this season.

 

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