Thumbs up for naked fun

Undaunted by the transit strike, Barenaked Ladies fans straggled in, hungry for a killer live show. They patiently sat through Chantal Kreviazuk’s half-hour set. Not to slight Kreviazuk and her astounding voice, but the packed Saddle-dome was waiting for Steve, Ed, Jim, Kevin and Tyler–and they were not disappointed.

The Ladies have a well-deserved reputation for entertaining and astounding their fans. Often, they break into spontaneous rap or songs about Hot Rods. Strange, but the Ladies are unlike any other band in Canada. They lack the pretension or staging of most concerts. In interviews they admit there are some songs they can never stop playing, like "If I Had A Million Dollars," but the Ladies never appear to begrudge their fans’ favourite. They love their jobs, and fans never feel the band has lost its zeal for the music.

On this night drummer Tyler Stewart was given the opportunity to solo his heart out. He whipped the crowd into a frenzy with his incredible skill. Keyboardist Kevin Hearn ridiculed Britney Spears’ "Oops, I Did It Again," singing the lyrics against the Darth Vader march. Bassist Jim Creeggan showed off his talent with an electric bass and an upright string bass–a unique talent for a pop musician.

But the clear ringleaders of the group are the writing/singing/playing goofball duo Steven Page and Ed Robertson. After 10 years together, they play off each other well and sometimes seemed amazed how much their fans enjoy them.

The Ladies opened their two-hour set with a video quoting the poem that inspired the title of Maroon. They proceeded to delve into current hits and beloved songs from past albums like Gordon and Maybe You Should Drive.

Supporting the band’s hijinks was an amazing backdrop of an inflated clown face with room for the band to poke their faces through à la Laugh In. Adding to the visual gymnastics were four video screens showing footage of the concert. The stage crew did a fantastic job, playing around with video tricks to compliment the songs. Their live CD Rock Spectacle does not do the Ladies high-energy performance justice. It never captures the spontaneous underwear throwing "Pinch Me" provokes or the classic Kraft Dinner-toss for which"If I Had A Million Dollars" is known. To wrap up, the band meandered through current Top 40 hits, mimicing Eminem and their Juno competition Nelly Furtado.

But it wasn’t enough for the fans. They stomped and hollered for more–not wanting to disappoint, the Ladies came back with two encores, closing finally with "Call and Answer," a song about the value of second chances.

Simply put, the Barenaked Ladies are fun. Their critics take their mislabeled juvenile songs and dismiss them, but they would miss the sheer glee the Barenaked Ladies pack with their instruments.

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