Barenaked Ladies Show Their Stuff at Fleet Center
Opening Acts Display Strong Vocals, Weak Stage PresenceBy Pey-Hua Hwang
March 2, 7:30 p.m.
The Barenaked Ladies’ Fleet Center performance on their “Everything to Everyone” tour delivered laughs, visual entertainment, and a solid musical showing. The two opening musical acts really couldn’t compare. Butterfly and Gavin DeGraw both appeared to enjoy performing for the large audience that filled the Fleet Center; however, neither has really mastered stage presence the way the Ladies have.
Butterfly seemed the most out of place. Her set was short, she had no back up band, and her slight frame seemed even smaller compared to the size of the stage. However, one does have to give her credit for her strong voice, folksy style with an edge, and her passion for her instrument. “You can never have too much guitar. Remember that,” she said.
Gavin DeGraw came on the stage wearing a Newbury Comic’s t-shirt. He exuded a sort of goofy charm and his style was a little bit more mainstream pop/rock. He evoked a little bit of blues, a little bit of funk, and what one could call “old school.” He played both the keyboard and the guitar. There was a nice variety of mood, and the crowd seemed to especially appreciate a fairly decent cover of Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On.” His vocal skills, however, were best displayed in the last song of his set, “Chariot.” The Ladies consistently seem to be able to pick opening acts with very strong vocal capabilities.
After a quick set change, the Ladies took the stage. They opened with “Maybe Katie,” an energetic song from their latest album, “Everything to Everyone.” Over the course of the concert they would play songs from all of their albums, from “Gordon” and “Born on a Pirate’s Ship,” to “Stunt” and “Maroon.”
When you go to a Barenaked Ladies show, you don’t just go to hear songs, although all of them were performed with impeccable intonation and energy; instead, you go for the improvisation. They made fun of “Hahvahd yahd,” Canadian Vikings, submarine sandwiches, and concert etiquette, to name just a few topics. The banter between Ed Robertson and Steven Page never failed to entertain. Who would ever think to talk about a war on fridges? “But if you don’t refrigerate your food, the bacteria win,” they quipped.
The Ladies are also great showmen, who love what they do and have no shame. In “Shopping,” they ran around the stage with shopping carts and performed Busby Berkeley style choreography. They performed “One Week,” with a mandolin and barbershop quartet harmonies. Anytime Page wasn’t singing, he danced around the stage like Drew Carey on speed. He even did a short cover of “I’m Too Sexy.” The Ladies’ easygoing presence was best exemplified by the words of Roberts as he encouraged the audience to sing along to the single “Testing 1,2,3.” “If you don’t know all the lyrics please sing along anyways,” he said. They also displayed maturity when dedicating “War on Drugs,” a subtle melancholy number to those that have committed suicide and also announced a benefit concert in memory of 9/11.
I’ve often been disappointed by bands that I’ve seen more than once live. The Ladies have avoided getting stuck in a performing rut. I hope they keep touring, producing music, and instilling in us a belief that Page put best. “The base of everything I believe is that we’re here to take care of each other,” he said. At least musically, they’re certainly taking care of their end of the deal.