SameDiff BNL

Ladies Night Out

By MIKE BELL, Calgary Sun, March 1st, 2001.

Barenaked band suffers terminal case of the cutes.

Saddledome, Calgary
Wednesday, February 28, 2001

Say what you want about the music of The Barenaked Ladies, because none of it really matters.

Not when they take the stage anyway as they did last night to a bubbly, diverse crowd of approximately 13,000 Ladies-lubbers at the Saddledome.

No, the nerdy Canadian quintet are impervious to musical criticism, because for the past decade they've learned the important lesson that concert-goers universally love three things: giant colourful inflatable objects (borrowed either from either AC/DC or Pink Floyd), familiar pop culture references (what people in the biz call the Stephen King pander), and extended stories involving bodily functions (that's actually just basic common sense, I guess).

Put those three things together, throw in some hummable though vacuous pop songs, dance around the stage like wayward Tragically un-Hip Blues Brothers, and you've got yourself some of that there entertainment stuff.

Which is fine, if that's your thing.

But somehow for me it all seemed too calculated, too eye-rollingly insincere.

From the inclusion of local nightlife hot spots the Warehouse and the Palace (gathered I'm sure from little more than a cursory 30-second glance at the Yellow Pages) in their version of Hello City, to the presense of an unexplained tamborine playing chef on stage and to the snippets of other artists' songs spliced flawlessly into their own (Van Halen, the Housemartins), it was all too cute, clever and tidy. Then again maybe I'm overthinking what's meant to be nothing more than a harmless rock show.

Maybe I should just sit back relax and enjoy the big funny balloons.


For the first half of her 30-minute set opening act Chantal Kreviazuk valiantly fought a losing battle.

The foes she was fighting were a half-full (we'll blame the city's transit woes on that), too-big room which sucked the life and, worse, the intimacy out of the Winnipeg singer-songwriter's material.

And unfortunately, though backed by a solid four-piece band Kreviazuk didn't appear to have the confidence, presence or the experience to fill the resulting void.

Sadly, an excellent artist was rendered merely adequate.

Then as if on cue, at exactly the half-way mark, the vivacious artist dove fully and completely into a booming rendition of the track Far Away, from her latest CD Colour Moving and Still.

She opened up that big beautiful voice of hers and it all came together.

Sounding like the perfect mix of Sarah McLachlan and Kate Bush, Kreviazuk mounted a comeback that left no one questioning her abilities as a top-notch big show Canadian entertainer.