Barenaked Ladies & Boothby Graffoe – Live At O2 Academy Liverpool, Sept 2016

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08 Sep 16
Barenaked Ladies - Live At O2 Academy Liverpool, Sept 2016

Barenaked Ladies – Live At O2 Academy Liverpool, Sept 2016

It was a rare sunny day Liverpool yesterday, something commented on by Canadian alt-rock band Barenaked Ladies as they took to the stage with their usual boundless energy at Liverpool’s O2 Academy. Those of you that follow Geektown will be aware I’ve been a huge fan of the band for over 20 years, and my love for seeing them live has not diminished over that time.

For this latest tour they decided to switch up the venues a little, which meant rather than playing my home town of Birmingham, I took a trip up the M6 to my previous spiritual home of Liverpool. Once again, I decided to splash out on the VIP tickets, which not only gives you priority access to the main gig, but also the chance to see the sound check, a few goodies, and a ‘meet & greet’ with the band.

The Sound Check / Meet & Greet

Arriving at the venue at around 5pm, a small group of fans had formed, including a lot of members of the BNL UK Fans facebook group, which is a great online community of like-minded BNL souls. After some chatting and meeting new people, we were ushered up 3, very large, flights of stairs to the main venue to find Ed, Kevin, Jim and Tyler all up on stage playing through tracks for the gig in the evening. The sound check itself was rather shorter than previous ones I’d been to, but to be fair to the guys, the venue was rather like an oven, so I can’t imagine that really makes you want to spend time setting up and testing equipment if you really don’t need to! After that they came down to take photos, and sign various items people had brought along, and the bags and postcards we’d been given. Had a nice chat with Ed about the latest comic books he’s reading (whenever they play Birmingham, I always seem to bump into him after he’s coming back from searching for a comic book shop!) All 4 of the guys are really friendly and happy to chat to fans.

With the Meet & Greet over, we headed back outside to grab food before the main gig.

The Gig

I enter back into the venue, and thanks to the VIP tickets, manage to land a spot on the barrier right at the front. I stood chatting with some fellow fans for awhile, only to turn around 20mins later and see the room has been completely packed and waiting for things to start. It’s a really great venue, although could have done with some air-con, as it was swelteringly hot in there. Thankfully the O2 staff were handing out iced water to people, which helped!

Support this year came from the brilliantly funny comedian/musician Boothby Graffoe, who previously toured with BNL a couple of years ago. Starting off with a few solo tracks, he’s then joined by BNL’s Jim and Kev for some of the later songs… Most of which lyrically seem to revolve around stalking people or dying (it’s funny… dark, but funny!) He’s a perfect support act for BNL. Funny, musical and entertaining.

After a short wait, we come to the main event. On come Tyler Stewart, Jim Creeggan, Kevin Hearn & Ed Robertson, aka Barenaked Ladies, who launch into Boomerang, from their 2013 album, Grinning Streak, followed by Duct Tape Heart from the 2015 album Silverball. Next comes the age old tradition of the band making up songs about the city in which they are playing. Cue a improv song from Ed about how he likes pools but not liver. From there we get treated to a rendition of Easy, Gonna Walk and Four Seconds which is from the 2010 album All In Good Time. This isn’t a track I’ve heard them do live before, so was really interesting to have that thrown in there. This is followed by Kev’s Gene Wilder tribute with a rendition of Pure Imagination, which leads into Kev taking vocals on Passcode.

From then on it’s a mix of old and new. What’s lovely is seeing how they deal with some of the older tracks, which originally had ex-bandmate Steven Page on vocals. For some, such as Hello City, it’s a pretty straight swap, with Ed taking the lead. For others, like Sound Of Your Voice, Kev takes lead and it becomes a different, softer version of the song, but equally as brilliant as the original. Boothby also gets a chance to come out again and take the lead on Be My Yoko Ono.

Things draw to a close with the Big Bang Theme, Pinch Me, and of course, a rendition of If I Had A Million Dollars. This leads into the traditional rap/mix of current & classic hits, synchronized dancing, and big finsh. But of course that’s not the end. As has happened on the last few gigs, the encore sees Tyler being unleashed from the drum kit to take lead vocals, whilst Ed gets to bash the skins. Ty seemed a little less manic than his usual ‘Animal from the Muppets’ self, but that is possibly due to the heat! He still bashed out a stunning rendition of Allergies from the 2008 children’s album Snacktime! and a number of other tracks which bought the house down.

Once again, an astounding performance from one of the best live bands on the planet. If you’re a Barenaked Ladies fan then obviously you should go and see them (and probably have.) But even if you’re not specifically a BNL fan but just love live music. Get tickets. Go. They are one of the best live band experiences you will ever get.

See the video below for highlights from Barenaked Ladies – Live At O2 Academy Liverpool, 7th Sept 2016!