SameDiff BNL

Hub Crowd Rings In 2001 With Barenaked Millennial Revelry

By SARAH RODMAN, Boston Herald, January 2nd, 2001.

Barenaked Ladies at the FleetCenter, Boston, Sunday night.

"We love you, that's why we keep coming back here," proclaimed Barenaked Lady Ed Robertson to the sold-out FleetCenter crowd at the band's New Year's Eve show, the first of a two-night stand.

There was a lot of love in the room from both sides of the stage as the Canadian quintet thanked the crowd profusely at the end of a two-hour-plus performance that was jam-packed with tuneful and harmonious pop rock and the jokes, song parodies, goony choreography and general genial mayhem that makes BNL shows so special.

The night began as the band traipsed through the mouth of a huge inflatable head sprouting multicolored dreadlocks and launched into the churning guitar rocker "Too Little Too Late," from its latest album, "Maroon."

From there it was a blur of the old and liltingly lovely — "Jane," "Life in a Nutshell" — to the newer and more boisterously raucous — "It's All Been Done," "Baby Seat" — to the interesting turns of "Maroon." Those included the almost bossa novalike rhythms of "Sell, Sell, Sell" and the wee-small-hours cocktail jazz vibe of "Conventioneers."

At the stroke of midnight, balloons dropped from the ceiling, Robertson encouraged strangers to kiss one another as the band and family and crew members shared a toast onstage and each member sang their own ad-libbed verse of "Auld Lang Syne."

There were also the requisite freestyle musical bits, including a silly drum solo, a bass solo that included bits of Bizet's "Carmen" and a pulse-pounding, free-form disco medley of old Bronski Beat, ABC, Men Without Hats and Anita Ward tunes. The band's trademark closing — the jovial beat box and running man medley — included "The Real Slim Shady," Madonna's "Music" and "Who Let the Dogs Out."

Lead singer Steven Page shone with a tour de force vocal on the encore ballad "Break Your Heart" and the band sent the crowd packing with the jaunty Marshall Crenshaw-like bopper "Go Home."

Although BNL has played shows in the past with funnier, more cohesive bits and a more pleasing set list, Sunday night's buzzing energy, the band's obvious eagerness to please while also enjoying themselves and the crowd's collective holiday good will managed to keep ennui at bay.

Local lights Guster were a simpatico opener and the three-man band easily won over the fairly sizable crowd that showed up early to take them in.