Review: Barenaked Ladies – The Institute, Birmingham 8th Oct 2015

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08 Oct 15

Barenaked Ladies - The Institute, Birmingham 8th Oct 2015

Barenaked Ladies – The Institute, Birmingham 8th Oct 2015

Barenaked Ladies are, I suspect, best know to our younger visitors as the people who wrote the theme tune to Big Bang Theory, however, they’ve been around for the past 27 years. I’ve been a huge fan for about 23 of them, ever since their breakthrough album Gordon was released… and for those of you that are long-time fans and just had to re-read that, yes, Gordon is is 23 years old, and yes, you (and I) are old!

As a Canadian band, they only usually tour this side of the pond every couple of years. I try to catch them at least once every UK tour, but what’s even nicer with BNL’s gigs is they offer a VIP option, which allows you access to the sound check, and gives you a chance to meet and greet the band before the show.

The Sound Check / Meet & Greet

Turning up at the venue around 3.30pm, I was met with a small cluster of BNL fans gathered outside. Most were from the BNL UK Fans facebook group, a lovely, friendly gang that braved the bitterly cold Birmingham wind on Weds come and see their favourite artist. Some were there for the VIP pre-show like me, but many were just there to be first in the queue for the show that started at 7pm (they are somewhat hardcore!) 😉 What I’ve always loved about BNL is the fact that, unlike the stadium band they are in their own country, they’re a somewhat cult following in the UK, so there’s a real sense of community amongst the UK fans. Cue lots of conversations about where you first heard them, and what gigs you’d been to. I’ve always found BNL fans a really welcoming and friendly bunch of people to chat to whilst your waiting for the doors to open.

Barenaked Ladies - The Institute, Birmingham 8th Oct 2015

Barenaked Ladies / Colin Hay – The Institute, Birmingham 8th Oct 2015

As 4pm rolled around, a VIP group of around 30 people were let inside to watch the sound check. What follow was a lot of fun, with them taking requests from the group for songs. Some of them BNL tracks, some from other bands. Being in Birmingham, they did a Black Sabbath cover (Ed does quite a convincing Ozzie!), and some Rush (they are Canadian after all!) It’s a nice opportunity for people to shout out some of the rather more obscure BNL tracks which wouldn’t usually make it into the main show. One of these resulted in the band giving a rendition of Popcorn from their Snacktime children’s album, with keyboard/guitar/accordion/’anything that makes a music noise’ player Kevin Hearn taking lead vocals. After the sound check was over, the group came down to the main floor, took photos and chatted with the audience. I did get to have a nice little chat with Ed, and confirmed that, unlike last year, he did actually manage not to get lost in the Bullring this time, and found his way to the comic book store he was trying to reach when they were here 2 years ago!

With the sound check and meet & greet over, it was time to head back outside before the main show…

The Gig

Colin Hay / Kevin Hearn

Colin Hay / Kevin Hearn

One of the other advantages of the VIP tickets, is that they let you back into the venue first (this may not be the case at all venues, but it has been at The Institute), meaning I managed to grab a sweet spot right at the front by the stage. Support act this time around was the brilliant Colin Hay. You may not know the name, but if you’re of my age, you’ll remember the band ‘Men At Work’ (I come from a land down under…) of which he was the lead singer. If you’re of a younger generation, you may recognise him from the tv show Scrubs, which he occasionally popped up in and featured a number of his songs (Zach Braff is a big fan!) The first rather noticeable thing for a man famed for a song about coming from Australia is his broad Scottish accent (he emigrated there when he was 14 and now lives in LA, but it would seem you can’t take the accent out of a Scot!) Playing an entire acoustic set, he opened with the wonderful Beautiful World, followed by the equally brilliant Overkill, before moving onto the most famous Men At Work track, Down Under. It’s really lovely hearing these tracks totally stripped back, which just Colin’s powerful vocal and an acoustic guitar. Towards the end of the set, Kevin Hearn came out on stage to join him on accordion for a few tracks off his latest album Next Year Peoplewhich is well worth a purchase.

After a short break it was time for the main show, and on came Tyler Stewart, Jim Creeggan, Kevin Hearn & Ed Robertson to kick things off with an energetic version of Get Back Up, the first track from their latest album SilverballThis was closely followed by the BNL tradition of making songs up on the spot. In this case inspired by Ed having seen Birmingham’s canals and canal boats up close for the first time, but being to scared to approach the rather stern looking canal people!

Barenaked Ladies - The Institute, Birmingham 2015

BNL

The rest of the show was a solid mix of older hits and tracks of the new album. Colin Hay joined them back on stage a couple of times. Once for a cover of the Men At Work track Who Could It Be Now? and later for the BNL track Pinch Me. What has become clear is they’re certainly not missing ex-BNL member and co-lead singer Steven Page, and have found a great grove as a 4 piece. Vocal duties are now spread around the band, with both Kevin and Jim taking lead vocals on tracks. They even release Ty from the drum kit for the encore. Given the amount of energy he leaps forward with once he’s handed a mic, I swear the must chain him to the drum set to stop bouncing over the room for most of the gig… (I still say his inspiration is Animal from the Muppets.) 😉

As always, BNL are an immensely entertaining band to watch, and every show they just seem to get better. If you ever get chance to see them live, I urge you to take it, you won’t be disappointed. Here’s to the next 27 year!

All The Videos – Barenaked Ladies – The Institute, Birmingham 8th Oct 2015