Barenaked Ladies (with Chantal Kreviazuk) E-Town TapingBy BRYCE EDMONDS, Billboard.com, March 12th, 2001.
Boulder Theater Boulder, Colo.
March 9th, 2001
From the very beginning of the show you can tell that this will not be your average E-Town gig. Host Nick Forster informs the crowd at the Boulder (Colo.) Theater that this is a taping of the E-Town radio program and not a concert but that, yes, the group everyone is here to see will perform six or more songs depending on what they feel like playing. You see, it's not everyday that one gets to see the Barenaked Ladies at an 870-seat theater.
E-Town, which celebrates its 10th anniversary in April, is a program that combines environmental awareness and great music, and is heard coast-to-coast on public radio. Shows are taped live at the Boulder Theater or at the various locations the crew hits when they take the program on the road. The diverse palette of past guests includes Richard Thompson, Little Feat, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Ben Harper, and Bela Fleck & The Flecktones. BNL were also featured on E-Town long before they started selling out arenas in an hour.
After an introduction by co-host Helen Forster and a sound check to set audience levels, the Barenaked Ladies came out to applause that must have given fits to the sound-people. Comically stylish in matching black shirts and jeans, the band quipped about how glad they were to be back at their real hometown, E-Town. They then kicked into "Sell Sell Sell," from their newest release, "Maroon." With Steven Page on vocals, the song was a powerfully performed slow-tempo start to the band's performance. After a few more jokes, including talking about how they had taken time off to back Bruce Springsteen as the E-Town band, the Ladies launched into "Hidden Sun," the bonus track from "Maroon," with keyboardist Kevin Hearns on vocals a rare but not unwelcome treat.
After more banter with Nick Forster, guitarist/ vocalist Ed Robertson took over on vocals as the band picked up the tempo with the band's Grammy-nominated hit single, "Pinch Me," which featured a guitar solo by one of the band's guitar techs.
During the next segment with Forster, the band endured memory-lane photos of their first E-Town performance and answered question from the audience. In response to a question about preferring small or large venues, Page half-jokingly replied that he liked the large venues for the staging that helps him feel like Bon Jovi's Richie Sambora. He also referred to the band's moniker as something he's been "bummed about since he was 18." They then finished off their first mini-set with the punchy love song "Go Home."
The Forsters then gave out the "e-chievement" award which recognizes "individuals and organizations around the country who have found positive solutions to problems and challenges in their communities" to a couple in Colorado that rescues large animals from inhumane conditions. Chantal Keviazuk, also a Canadian native and Barenaked Ladies' current tour mate, came out for a strong four-song set including "Dear Life" and "Before You" from her 2000 release "Colour Moving And Still," "Surrounded," from her first album "Under These Rocks And Stones," " and the brand new "Brenda's Song," written for a cousin who recently passed away.
After some more announcements, Barenaked Ladies returned to the stage. In response to questions about "Maroon," the band revealed that it was inspired by the album "Colors," by spoken-word and voice-over legend Ken Nordine. The band began its last portion of the show with "Tonight Is The Night I Fell Asleep At the Wheel," a dark ballad from "Maroon" sung by Page. As that song ended and the first notes of "Brian Wilson" followed, the crowd exploded. The song has become something of an anthem, but is still a well-loved piece in the band's canon. Page danced around in near mosh-pit style and he and Robertson acted out some of the band's comic impulses by doing synchronized leaps before each chorus.
As is customary for E-Town, everyone took the stage for the finale, which prompted Nick Forster to joke that they would play a classic Wham! song that he didn't realize was a classic. With that, BNL and Kreviazuk launched into a searing version of "Careless Whisper." And indeed it was classic. Powerful duets by Kreviazuk with both Page and Robertson were punctuated with remarkably fresh solos by all three. The crowd gave them a standing ovation, no doubt a first for a Wham! cover.
The show had ended but the crowd wanted more. BNL finally acquiesced and came back onstage to thunderous applause and ripped into "The Old Apartment," a favorite off of 1996's "Born On A Pirate Ship." The lone encore was followed by the obligatory souvenir pick toss and another standing ovation that didn't end until the E-Town staff finally turned up the house music to end the rare, intimate, and entertaining evening.
This episode of E-Town show will be broadcast in April.