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Ladies Throw Free-For-All Concert For Fans

By ANGELA HALL, The Edmonton Journal, March 2nd, 2001.

No one seems immune from loving the Ladies.

Naked Lunch: Barenaked Ladies, left to right, Kevin Hearn, Ed Robertson, Tyler Stewart, Steven Page and Jim Creeggan at Edmonton Centre on Thursday. (By Rick MacWilliam)Hundreds — lawyers on lunch break, 14-year-old fans and families of five, seniors, thirty-somethings and almost every age group in between — packed the ground floor of Edmonton Centre and lined the railings on all three levels to catch a free Barenaked Ladies concert at noon Thursday.

"We've loved them since we were very little," said 16-year-old Barbara Carter, who showed up with friends and three rolls of film at 8:30 a.m. to snag a spot in front of the stage.

"Their songs are so different from the other stuff."

A few metres back in the sea of people was Mary Woods, 67, who liked the idea of a no-cost concert.

"They seem like nice guys," said Woods. "It's wonderful."

Ask her daughter Elaine Woods how long they've been fans and the 39-year-old breaks into a rendition of If I Had A Million Dollars, the band's early Canadian hit.

Workers who walked over from a nearby office tower were jockeying for position along an upper-level railing to get a glimpse of the guys.

"They're Canadian, how can you not be a fan?" said Teresa McLeod.

"We're the old-school fans," said lawyer Mark Raven-Jackson, who staked out a spot downstairs at the side of the stage.

"It's Canadian music. We have a little band so we respect the talent."

He remembers being a stage hand for the band when they played in Red Deer in the early 1990s and he was a student at Red Deer College. They played at a venue that seated only 400 fans.

Steven Page signs a guitar for fan Rick Allen. (By Rick MacWilliam)Parents bounced young babies while people carrying briefcases bopped along with the teenagers when the band broke out with It's All Been Done and played favourites such as Jane, Brian Wilson and One Week.

Well-known for their spontaneity, the band bantered with each other, joked with nearby store employees and teased a man about browsing in the "women's interest" magazine section of a shop by the stage. They also took the opportunity to urge people to attend their concert at Skyreach Centre on Thursday night.

The combination of humour and musical talent has earned the respect of 14-year-old musicians Paul Emme and Aaron Smith.

"They're lighthearted but still take it seriously as musicians," said Emme.

As a French horn player in the Victoria school band, he said he can appreciate that.

"It's not just the songs. They put on a good performance."

The final verdict: true love, said Lori Ostrowski, a mother of two teenaged girls.

"They're so fun. We're really proud of them because they're Canadian."