Sunday, September 04, 2005

The Rolling Stones in Moncton

See also Alex's Review

I was at the show as well, and the review is generally accurate, though a little harsher and more cynical than I would have been.

(Photo by Alex) Les Trois Accords, yes, spoke in French. Given that every other band spoke in English, it was the elast they could do. They played OK, though I got the impression they were a little overwhelmed by the size of the crowd (which would have been about 50,000 when they played - the eventual size of 80K was reached only for the Tragixcally Hip).

I lost track of who was who, and I don't really know the next three bands (I've heard of them, well, two of them, but I don't know their music). So they were fresh to me.

I thought Our Lady Peace were pretty good (I thought at the time they were some other unknown warm-up band, so they actually exceeded my expectations). Sure, the banter was lightweight, but the song 'Wipe That Smirk Off Your Face' itself was pretty good. When they finished I was left with the feeling that it would be worth buying one of their CDs - except I don't buy CDs any more because of DRM and lawsuits (maybe I'll scout out some MP3s).

Maroon 5 - who I have never even heard of before the show - was OK (Andrea liked them better than Our Lady Peace) but didn't really appeal to me. They also seemed out of their league at a show like this.

The Tragically Hip is one of those bands I've heard of but who's radio presence always seemed to be more pretension than substance. And I was pretty sure they wouldn't play the one song of their that I actually know (and they didn't, it being a bad time to refer to new Orleans).

Still. This was the first time I've seen Gord Downie perform and I was suitably impressed. You say it gets better? When Downie gets into one of his rants (yeah, they can only be called rants) there's an edge to his voice that reaches out and grab you. Where has all this music been all this time (as compared to the Tragically Hip pap they played on the radio)? Some throwaway tunes I recognized, but by far and away the best stuff was material that has probably never seen the sunny side of an AM dial (maybe it has, what would I know?).

Anyhow, my view on the Tragically Hip has changed, from 'pretentious Toronto media darlings' to 'band you have to get to know to appreciate'. I guess by any band's standards, that marks a successful show

The Stones were, well, the Stones. Probably their best bits were 'Sympathy for the Devil' and a dark rendition of 'Paint it Black'. I also gained a new appreciation for 'can't Always get What You Want', which seems re-engineeded be as relevant to today's protest movement as to the 60s movement to which it was originally addressed. I also really appreciated 'In the Nighttime', which could probably get good airplay if released now. Their newer songs were uninspired, but nonetheless left me with the impression that there is always the possibility of another 'Some Girls' in the band.

Yes, they played everything, they played a long show, and they put in a whole-hearted performance - you don't get the feeling that this is a band that is resting on its laurals. The music was very tight, the vocals crisp and clear and (which judicious help from the back-up singers) on key. There were pyrotechnics, but not a lot; the focus was tightly on the band and the music.

I watched the show from near light pillar twelve, which is about amile away from the stage. Consequently, the musicians themselves were about an eighth of an inch tall. But the screens were crisp and sharp, and except for an annoying lag (screen programmers should calculate for the speed of sound at such distances) were everything I could have wanted. Even at such distances the show was vivid and colourful and real-life.

The site was under-serviced for 80,000 people - if you tried to get food any time after 5:00 or so, you were in for more than an hour wait (when I got food at around 2:00 the service was brisk). Waits for the porta-potties were similarly bad, which meant you had to plan ahead (still, there was enough time for relief between The Hip and the Stones). The crowd was massive, but good natured and friendly.

The bus service was a nightmare, and after the show I learned that it takes 2 hours and 45 minutes to walk the 10.6 kilometers from the concert site at Magnetic Hill to my home near downtown Moncton.

Would I do it again? Yes.

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