Music Park: Barenaked Ladies @ Wolf Trap — 6/15/16

BNL 11
Ed Robertson and Jim Creeggan of Barenaked Ladies perform at Wolf Trap on Wednesday, June 15, 2016. (Photo by Mickey McCarter)

Canadian rockers Barenaked Ladies hit the stage at Wolf Trap on Wednesday with an appropriate speculation:

“Maybe it would be cool/If I rocked it old school/Try to break a gold rule/And a sweat,” sang vocalist Ed Robertson in opening number “Testing 1, 2, 3” from the band’s 2003 album, Everything to Everyone. The refrain goes: “Testing 1, 2, 3, Can anybody hear me?” And the answer at the very full pavilion at Wolf Trap is a resounding yes!

Warmed up by openers Howard Jones and Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, the roughly 7,000 people in Wolf Trap’s Filene Center were ready to party down with their favorite jangle-rock icons, who are sweeping the United States through July 24 on the strength of a new live album, BNL Rocks Red Rocks, released in February via Concord Records, in a show titled “Last Summer on Earth.”

Well, from the way the crowd warmed to Barenaked Ladies, or BNL, you would believe we have many more summers together indeed. For someone like myself, who has seen BNL only once previously — and that in 1998 when I was a grad student at American University — the show was instructive as to why the band remain so popular.

One of the reasons is the unexpected twists and influences Ed and company bring up time and again. So soon into their set, BNL cover “The Gambler” by Kenny Rogers, apparently a favorite track of the band for many years.

Throughout it all, Ed maintains laidback banter and easy chemistry with his bandmates — bassist Jim Creeggan, guitarist Kevin Hearn, and drummer Tyler Stewart — all of whom seem to be having the time of their lives during the concert. The gents have an easy, breezy attitude to their craft, which feeds the audience and in turn comes back to feed the band!

And BNL is band with many well-known songs of their own of course. No BNL show, particularly a live show on the heels of a live album, would be complete without some of them, and the Barenaked Ladies oblige.

So soon we get “Brian Wilson” from the band’s 1992 debut album, Gordon, as well as the hit “Old Apartment” from the 1996 album, Born on a Pirate Ship.

In the latter half of the show, the hits keep coming with remorseful “Pinch Me” from 2000’s Maroon; the frenetic “One Week,” the #1 hit from 1998’s Stunt; and “If I Had $1,000,000,” another crowd-pleaser and fun singalong song from their debut album.

Another unexpected highlight of the show comes around halfway, when opener Howard Jones joins the Barenaked Ladies on stage for a performance of Howard’s “No One Is to Blame.” Howard takes lead on the vocals from a portable synthesizer and BNL serve as his backing band. It’s a wonderful tribute to a man (Howard) that the band (BNL) clearly admire, and frankly they sound fantastic together.

Barenaked Ladies headline again tonight, June 20, in Pittsburgh, and continue across the country for more than another month of dates, wrapping up in Los Angeles on July 24. It’s a brilliant line-up, well worth your time, so if you have $100 (or even less!), get out there and see this very fitting summer show. You’ll be glad you did.

Here are some pictures of Barenaked Ladies performing at Wolf Trap on Wednesday, June 15, 2016.

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BNL 02 BNL 03

BNL 04 BNL 05

BNL 07 BNL 09

BNL 10 BNL 12

BNL 13 BNL 14

BNL 15 BNL 16

BNL 18 BNL 19

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