SameDiff BNL

Orlando's Best Concert Venue — Hard Rock Live

By KELLY LADD, Hard Rock Cafe, October 26th 2000.

Barenaked Ladies

Guster complemented each other like a Grandslam breakfast at Denny's, with the drummer being the main course — sunny-side up! Although the crowd consisted mostly of Barenaked Ladies fans, many of whom never heard of the trio from Boston, they seemed to enjoy the show. During the crowd favorite "Barrel of a Gun," the sea of heads bobbed and I even spotted a few fans shaking a little derriere. But it was Brian Rosenworcel on percussion who stole the show — he was like John Bonham on acid, but with stronger hands. Rosenworcel's killer beats resonated deep inside, giving me the urge to buy a set of bongos of my own and practice until my hands bleed — and I don't think I was the only one who was inspired. Although many never heard of Guster when they walked into Hard Rock Live, they definitely will not forget them. In fact, many fans said they were excited about going out the next day and buying the CD, or at least take the time to download it from Napster.

Chants of "BNL-BNL-BNL" echoed throughout the vaulted Hard Rock Live venue as the crowd hungrily awaited the first show of the Music Choice Onstage at Hard Rock Live Orlando to begin. Anticipation filled the almost smoke-free air as laughing and hugging friends, with beers and mixed drinks in hand, packed onto the hardwood dance floor. As the curtain finally rose and two giant balloons (one of a fat French man and another of yellow 'thing' with a red nose) floated towards the ceiling, the atmosphere for the evening was set. The concert's inflatable backdrop of a multi-colored, open-mouth clown/gimp creature from a Candyland gameboard gone mad lit up the stage. Suddenly the 5 band members, looking similar to the 1960's Dave Clark 5 band, dressed in matching blue plaid shirts and navy blue pants, stepped through the clown's mouth and took their places behind their respective instruments. Following the quintet through the mouth was a man dressed in a white French chef's outfit and a red scarf tied around his neck. (I enjoyed calling the mysterious man "Chef Pierre.") Chef Pierre picked up a tambourine and maracas and took his place to the left of drummer Tyler Stewart.

BNL opened with "Too Little, Too Late" from their newest release, Maroon. But it wasn't until the second song, "Alcohol," that the crowd got pumped. Lifting their drinks in the air, fans sang along.

Steven PageThroughout the night, song after song, lead guitarists Ed Robertson and Steven Page kept the crowd roaring with their hilarious one-liners and silly antics. Page made the show as he danced onstage wildly contorting his body, flipping and flopping. Robertson, with his bright blue eyes, wasn't too bad himself as he shuffled across the stage, guitar in hand, creating moves never seen before. Two girls behind me kept commenting to each other, "Oh my God, this is so funny!"

Halfway through the show, BNL, as any responsible band would do, paused to announce to some rambunctious fans in the center of the floor, who were in the process of lifting a friend up to crowd surf, that they had only one rule: NO CROWD SURFING. They "like people to leave with the same amount of teeth as they came with."

The show's highlights included keyboardist Kevin Hearn's unexpected and surprisingly beautiful solo of the theme from Star Wars, a little medley that ended with BNL's rendition of "Hey Jude," and a song that incorporated Robertson and Page talking backwards. The band even promised to perform "every single song they had ever written." The side video monitors began scrolling down a list of songs, like one of those "Rockin' 70's Collection" commercials on TV, and somehow The Barenaked Ladies smoothly blended a version of their anthology. A crowd favorite, "One Week," showed the brotherly love within the group, especially at the song's closure when Ed and Steve performed a Britney Spears-like dance routine and that ended with a dramatic smooch. MOAH!

The night's most memorable moment was when BNL sang their hit song "If I had a Million Dollars." The entire crowd sang along. As any die-hard BNL disciple would know, this is the segment in the show where fans celebrate by tossing Kraft Macoroni and Cheese Dinners (uncooked of course) onstage and into the air like confetti. Pasta and laughter filled the empty space above the floor. Chef Pierre, letting go of his maracas and tambourine, grabbed a janitor broom and swept the stage for the band.

The last song of the night, "Go Home" (from Maroon) and their heart-filled "thank you's" didn't satisfy the crowd. They wanted more, and screamed and chanted "BNL-BNL-BNL" until the five Canadians returned to perform their encore, "Call and Answer," which was dedicated to Hearn's father who was in attendance. Getting their last fill of the night, fans swayed their arms, hugged one another, and drank the last sip of their beers. The crowd went home happy. In fact, Bob Kerr, a long time macaroni-in-hand BNL fan from Detroit said, "Tonight's been really cool."