There have been many who questioned the Ladies’ ability to continue on as a band without Steve. Many wondered if the band would survive. “How can they sustain such a loss?”
Addition by subtraction, my friends. Less indeed can be more.
I have attended some great concerts by epic bands: Muse, Tool, Rush … all of them pale in comparison to BNL in their ability to command crowd interaction. If I didn’t know better, I would swear that Ed, Jim, Tyler, and Kevin were best friends with every single person in the crowd at every single show. In fact, let me amend that: they act as if they’re best friends with every single person in each and every crowd.
So we left town yesterday morning to drive up here to Boise. Got up here around 4, checked in, ran some pre-concert errands, then headed to the venue. The show was held at the Idaho botanical gardens, which just happens to be situated right next to the old prison to stage left. To stage right is this scenic view of some mountains. Kind of an interesting backdrop. There was a constant threat of rain the entire evening. Call it what you will–the act of a benevolent God, a sweet intervention on mother nature’s part … it did not rain one drop on the entire crowd. As Ed so aptly put it, “THANK YOU MOTHER NATURE!” to which we all cheered raucously.
To be honest, I has not done my homework on her prior to coming out. I’m glad I didn’t. She was an incredibly pleasant surprise. She took the stage with a mic and her guitar–no supporting band. Apparently she has one, but she’s touring on her own right now. She put on an incredible, all-too-short show, comprised of 6 songs, none of which I had ever heard, but all of which I’m glad I got to see in person.
Here’s her set list:
- All for Love
- Brand New Love
- A Little Bit of Red
- Weak in the Knees
- What I Want To Know
- Sing Sing
It seems like I’m missing one or two. I was keeping pretty close track, but … I dunno. So, she’s this incredibly stage-friendly girl who rips a guitar up and down while she belts out this incredibly soulful voice that has just a hint of Nashville in it but enough folk to keep the country haters at bay. “Weak in the Knees” was a duet with Ed Robertson. It was extremely cool to see them perform together. “Sing Sing” was far and away her best. No guitar, just her and the mic in a Stomp-style beat throw-down and clapping while she unleashed this acappella blast. Very cool chick.
People were yelling things to her and she’d respond with a polite and quippy answer. I decided to be polite and raise my hand, since we were just that close. Knowing that she’s from Ontario, Canada, I asked her if she was a Senators fan. She just kind of chuckled a bit, then sweetly and politically danced around it without commiting to a yes or no answer, which, in retrospect, is completely understandable. Can’t alienate one fan base or another, right? Stupid me. 🙂
After her set, she went back by the merchandise table to hang out and meet with the commoners. I got two of her CDs: one for my wife and me; and one for our friends who got us the tix. After apologizing for making the Senators comment, she just laughed and said she thought it was funny. Hey, it got me a picture with her! She seemed really genuine and down to earth. I can’t wait for her to come to the SLC!!
As previously mentioned, there have been detractors who questioned the band’s ability to move on. “Have they lost their essence?” “Are they capable of maintaining their fan base?”
To those who asked those questions, I hope you hang your head in shame. For the band to re-invent themselves by changing practically nothing is the mark of a dedicated group of musicians. The Ladies are fortunate to have 4 such individuals in their group. The wit, the humor, the mid-set city-inspired improvs, the excellent musicianship … all as if they had always been a 4-piece band.
I’ve noticed a distinct and more than likely very purposeful lack of any discussion of Steve. I imagine it’s hard on them to lose such a good friend and band mate, but at the same time, I don’t think it was as amicable a break-up as everyone thinks it was. Not that there’s any level of animosity between him and them … I don’t know. It’s hard to describe. I have to believe that their first single off the new album, “You Run Away,” is almost auto-biographical. I swear Ed teared up ever so slightly while performing that song. And who could blame him?
This is just my personal opinion … while I miss Steve’s voice and contributions, I do believe that the band has MUCH more creative potential now than it ever has. Jim and Kevin are more than equipped to contribute musically–not just in playing their respective instruments, but in contributing entire songs–music and lyrics. All in Good Time more than supports that idea. They provide 5 tracks on the new CD–about the same amount as they had in the rest of their previous discography.
As for the concert itself, it was great to see them on stage again, even though my wife and I had just seen them not 6 months previous in SLC at the Depot for their Christmas concert. They played a very solid set, mixing old with new (though the only two songs they played that were pre-Stunt were “Old Apartment” and “If I Had $1000000”). Here’s their set list.
- Testing 1-2-3
- Old Apartment
- Falling for the First Time
- Boise Rap
- Wind It Up
- Every Subway Car (with Serena Ryder)
- Another Heartbreak
- Never Is Enough (just Jim and Ed)
- Polywog (yes, they played a Snack Time song!)
- Sound of Your Voice
- Big Bang
- 4 Seconds
- Kevin’s piano solo
- Boise song: You Fascinate Me
- You Run Away
- I Saw It
- Too Little Too Late
- One Week
- It’s All Been Done
- Pinch Me (ugh … such a drunk concert chick story about this song that will forever haunt me)
- If I had $1000000
- Alcohol (sung by Tyler)
Here are the pics we took.
The show was phenomenal. Everyone smiled and had a ton of fun. Being on the front row, it was a tad difficult to see to the back of the crowd, but from what I could see, everyone was standing and dancing.
One of the standout songs was Tyler’s rendition of “Alcolhol.” You can tell he doesn’t get out from behind the drums very often. 🙂 No offense, Tyler! It was an awesome performance. He was all over the place, adding his distinct Tyler personality to the song. I wish I could have gotten some video footage. It was great.
“Polywog,” off of their Snack Time CD, had the crowd jump jumping to the top of the stump stump. Ed’s little mid-song rap was even better live than it is on the CD. Ha ha!
My favorite song off the new CD–“Four Seconds,” is one of the best lyrically that they’ve done in a long time. Any time you can actually rhyme something with “orange” (albeit with an ounce of forgiveness), you know you have a winner.
If this concert did *nothing* else for me, it showed me that BNL is still BNL–that they enjoy their crowds and fans as much as if not more than just about any other band out there; that they enjoy putting on an awesome stage shows; that they will prove to you night in and night out why their live shows are some of the best around.
But this particular show did so much more for me than just that. They are truly friends. When they announced that Steve had left the band, I felt as big a void as I’m sure they did. Along with them, I am filling that “void” with their new music. Not to mention that we got to go on a road trip with our incredibly awesome friends, with whom we don’t get to spend nearly enough time. They enjoy the band as much as we do.
My most incredibly awkward concert moment was achieved when drunk chick (whose picture I didn’t even think to take) reached up and grabbed my left nipple while the band was playing “Pinch Me.” I was literally stunned into a motionless stupor. “Whu … I …… why ……. don’t ……….” followed by a full-body shudder that ended with the heebie-jeebies on a scale of which I had never before experienced. Just … blugh. I felt tainted. I also laughed about it hysterically when I told my wife and friends. It was seriously weird.
In summary, the concert was fantastic. The band is back and as strong as ever. Serena Ryder was an experience unto itself, and I hope she’ll come to Utah here in the near future. Thanks for the fun evening, lady and ladies!