• James Hewlett

Barenaked Ladies


I’ve seen Barenaked Ladies six or seven times over the twenty plus years of being a fan but the biggest thing that keeps me going back is the fact that no show is ever the same.

Sure, they are my favourite band but I’ve seen other acts and they really didn’t do anything different show to show. For a band that have been playing some of the songs for thirty years to keep it fresh every single time is such an achievement.

Sara drove back from London and due to hitting a bit of traffic as she was nearly home we set straight back off without much of a chance for her to stop, she was wiped out, I felt really bad when I realised she hadn’t really eaten anything so when we got to the venue we did something we never do, we actually went and sat! I’ve never been to Salisbury City Hall for a show before, it was quite a good venue, not too big, not too small. There was a few rows of seats just behind the sound desk so we planted ourselves there and I tell you what, for two short people it was just right. It might make us sound super lame or old but not having to step around people and strain to see the band all night was really nice.

Sara was exhausted but managed to make it through the whole show despite really struggling to begin with, another testament to how entertaining BNL are on stage.

Boothby Graffoe was the support act, I’ve seen him open for Barenaked Ladies on about half of the shows I’ve seen of theres, they refer to him as their security blanket when they’re in the UK and he really is great. His brand and combination of comedy and music really works for the wildly diverse audience you tend to get at one of these shows. I always have a lot of fun seeing him and the fact that some of BNL come and play a few songs with him near the end of his set does a great job of getting the crowd warmed up. He actually joined them during their set to sing lead on Be My Yoko Ono, one of the bands oldest and most famous tracks. He bought a really fun energy to it and made it different from every other time I’ve seen it performed.

That’s another one of the big reasons the gigs are always worth going to; certain songs are going to get played at every show, the hits, you’re always going to get Brian Wilson, Pinch Me, One Week, Million Dollars and urgh, unfortunately the big bang theory theme tune these days. I say unfortunately but that might be a little harsh, it’s a fun Barenaked track, it’s just a shame it has to be connected to such a terrible terrible show. Anyway, for the most part each time I’ve seen them, most of these songs have had a completely different and unique arrangement. The same goes for much of the older catalogue of songs they play, especially the ones that Steven Page used to sing lead on before he left the band.

Some of the tracks they’ve slowed down or stripped down to minimal or different instruments, others they’ve switched up who sings lead which always puts a different spin on it as they each have such distinct voices. I love it, I don’t know any other band who does that so frequently and makes it sound so good each time. It must be refreshing for them too and you can see it, they still have the energy to play these songs after all that time.

The band obviously still want to play their latest stuff too and this show was no exception, about a quarter of the set was from the new album and you can tell they’re really proud of this record. It’s always interesting to watch the crowd with these songs, there are fans who follow every release like I do but many of the people there probably haven’t heard a new album from the band in years. The new songs and the energy they put into them though are infectious and the people all seemed to really enjoy everything.

When Steven Page left the band in 2009 I think it shook the other four guys quite a bit, they still played shows and could always put on a great gig but you just need look at the first album afterwards, 2010’s All In Good Time, to see they needed to find themselves again, it was a much more somber album. In fact I think I’ve only ever heard them play one of the tracks from it once. The next album, Grinning Streak, didn’t come for three years and is actually one of my favourites of the whole catalogue. It really felt like a truly great Barenaked Ladies album again and there hadn’t been one of those, in my opinion for a decade since 2003’s Everything for Everyone. I didn’t love Silverball in 2015 but Fake Nudes from this year is really good again. If I end up liking every other album at this point, twelve studio albums in, (not including live records, EP’s or other compilations) I’m perfectly fine with it!

I can’t wait to see them when they next come over this way. If anyone has apple music and wants to see the setlist from last night I published a playlist, just search ‘Barenaked Ladies Salisbury 19/4/18’

See you tomorrow.

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©2017 by James Hewlett.