041493 Barenaked Ladies/Bob Wiseman, Ottawa, ON

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This concert on April 14th, 1993 was a pretty epic night for me.  

I had been following the career of the Barenaked Ladies since Ed Robertson and Steven Page were gigging and recording demos as a duo.  I was a big fan; the day their debut LP Gordon was released I went to the mall straight after work and bought a copy.  When I got home I listened to it over and over until the wee hours of the morning, despite having to get up early the next morning for work.  The album was so good, so clever and well produced I just couldn’t stop listening.

I still think Gordon is one of the greatest albums of the 1990’s.  Poppy, quirky, lush, smart…it’s just a brilliant piece of work from start to finish. 

Opening this concert was Bob Wiseman, another artist I had been a fan of for some time.  During frosh week of my second year of university I worked a Blue Rodeo show as part of the campus stage crew.  It was at the end of an exhausting week and I wasn’t a fan of the band so my boss said I could go back to my dorm room for a nap and come back for teardown after the show was over.  

As I was leaving the Blue Rodeo show their keyboard player started off a song and I stopped dead in my tracks.  The dude was fist-pounding the keys with a manic atonal flurry that instantly grabbed my attention and I quickly fought my way up to the front.  By the time I got there the band had started what turned out to be yet another standard Blue Rodeo song but I stuck it out and soon the keyboard player was given a solo and again I was slammed with musical bliss.  Eyes closed and oblivious, the guy launched an out-of-key frenetic foray into musical realms that was vastly beyond the easy-listening sound of Blue Rodeo.  

Such was my first taste of the astounding Bob Wiseman, and when he quit the band a short time later and released his first solo album In Her Dream his brilliance was confirmed and I was smitten.

This concert was my first time seeing both BW and BNL so yeah, it was pretty epic for me.

Bob played his set acoustic; it was like throwing Christians to the lions.  You have to realize that the Barenaked Ladies had just broke and their crowd was almost exclusively found within the 12-17 age bracket (yours truly excluded).  The big, ugly, square conference room in the Congress Centre was very sold out and it was stacked with young teenagers wholly uninterested in hearing this unknown guy sit up on the stage and sing weird songs about chemical spills in Bhopal, domestic assault victims and Holocaust deniers.

So there I stood packed in shoulder-to-shoulder a mere twenty feet from the stage struggling to hang on to every word Bob Wiseman sang over a very, very chatty crowd.  And my goodness it was a great set.

When BNL came out to ear-piercing screams they were on fire from the first note.  A clearly seasoned touring act buoyed with a rapidly-selling debut album under their belt, the young five-piece had oomph and energy.  The show never lulled, even during the slow tunes.  

They played everything off of Gordon and the Hamburger Tape and more.  The crowd gave the band love for the hits and the unfamiliar songs alike.  It was like they could do no wrong.  With that kind of talent, those great vocal chops, the killer songwriting and a fantastic live show they really couldn’t miss.  

I gotta say, I remember being really, really impressed with Andy Creeggan as he bounced between keyboards, backup vocals and a plethora of percussive instruments.  The guy added so much to what was going on and I was saddened when he left the band shortly after they recorded their followup to Gordon, Maybe You Should Drive.

I also vividly remember the band getting absolutely pummelled with Kraft Dinner during If I Had $1,000,000.  All manners of the dinner staple flew towards the band as they delivered the fateful line.  Full boxes, loose handfuls of macaroni, someone even threw a Ziplock bag full of KD onto the stage, ready to eat.  Ed Robertson mentioned it was the first time someone had thrown Kraft Dinner that was fully prepped with cheese powder and everything. 

I went on to see the Barenaked Ladies several more times and enjoyed each concert to some degree.  Since this show I’ve seen Bob Wiseman many, many times and I’ve always been utterly amazed.  I can say without hyperbole that Bob Wiseman has played some of the greatest concerts I’ve ever seen. 

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