For a show that featured two Can-Con juggernauts, and a relatively new band kicking the night off; the theme of the evening seemed to be Nostalgia. It felt a bit unusual for the fact that both Our Lady Peace and Matthew Good have recently dropped new full-length albums, and have teamed up with a cross-country tour, but these releases seem to be almost an afterthought. The Scotiabank Centre crowd was rather scant when Jimmy & Ben Chauveau and the lads in Ascot Royals took to the stage to showcase their brand of pop-infused rock n’ roll, but by the time the evening’s headliners hit the stage, it was pretty well a packed house.
//Ascot Royals Kicked the Night off on the Right Foot //
First on-stage Monday evening was the Toronto-based Ascot Royals, who were making their return to Halifax audiences, as they were here last year supporting Big Wreck (another Can-Con juggernaut) at the Marquee. This was a definite upgrade in terms of audiences, as they now found their way onto the biggest indoor stage the city has to offer. Fans of the band’s radio-ready melodic rock tunes will instantly recognize a little Brit-rock influence coming through, and it’s plainly evident on the band’s latest single “Evil I Know”, but all in all from the kinetic energy of front-man Jimmy Chauveau and the scintillating guitar work from Tal Vaisman definitely earned the band more than a few new fans in Halifax.
As a long-time fan of Matthew Good (both with and without a Band), I have had ample opportunity to catch him on pretty well every available stage the city has to offer (I must admit I missed out seeing Good perform at the Grawood Pub early in my university career). It was a treat to see Matt, Stuart, Peter and Blake take to the Scotiabank Centre stage and rip into “Bad Guys Win”, “Load Me Up” and “Decades” (the lead single from Matt’s latest record Something Like a Storm). The guys seemed to be having a grand time playing the Halifax Highlander’s arena (even if they only existed in Jay’s (Baruchel) Goon films) and put together a set that consisted largely of fan favorite material drawing from both Good’s solo career and his time as part of the Matthew Good Band.
Now as a longtime Matthew Good fan, it makes me bristle a bit when a track like “Apparitions” gets the biggest pop of the evening. This is thanks in large part to that tune being features on Big Shiny Tunes 3 and this crowd being a definite Big Shiny Tunes demographic. Many were in attendance mainly to revel in that aforementioned Nostalgia of the mid to late nineties when Canadian Rock content such as Our Lady Peace and Matthew Good dominated the charts. When Good breaks out a big arena rocker like “Giant” or “The Future is X-Rated” the crowd barely murmured in comparison. The crowd was definitely more familiar with the Matthew Good Band catalogue, but this isn’t a knock on the early material, instead it speaks to its longevity and ability to withstand the test of time, as “Apparitions” is a definite jam, and was further elevated by Stuart Cameron’s lap steel work. It would have been awesome to see the room fully embrace the “lesser known” tunes in the set.
As great as it was to see Good rip up the Scotiabank Stage, the energy and intimacy that are affordedwhen playing the Marquee Ballroom, are a much better fit. It’s not that Matt and the guys don’t deserve to be on the biggest stage possible, but allowing the MG fans better proximity to one and other to amplify the energy in the room. It’s also great to get the chance to hear some of the deeper catalogue cuts. Last night the fans of Good needed to band together to educate their seat mates towards the wealth of Material that is hidden under the more radio ready tunes.
After a potent 13 song set, Matt and the guys departed the stage and made way for Raine Maida and Our Lady Peace to take the stage. OLP are definitely no strangers to these parts, as they have included Halifax on many of their tours and like Good have played the majority of stages available in town, from the McInnes Room, the Cunard Centre, Citadel Hill and of course the Metro Centre/Scotiabank Centre. It was evident from the moment Our Lady Peace walked on stage, that this packed arena was here to see the Toronto based alt-rock outfit.
The band’s opening salvo pretty well spanned the band’s entire career, from the recent lead single “Drop Me In the Water”, to 1997’s “Superman’s Dead” and moving onto 2002’s “Innocent”. Having been a figure in the Canadian music scene for close to a quarter century, it would be understandable (and somewhat expected) for the band to rest on their laurels and just hit that nostalgia lap before proclaiming the band’s time of death, instead on Monday evening Raine proved that he still has a few tricks up his sleeve as he dovetailed a cover of the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s “Maps” into “Is Anybody Home?”, and before launching into his closing salvo of “Starseed” he welcomed Matthew Good and his band back to the stage, where Good played guitar while Raine proceeded to perform an unexpected cover of “Hello Time Bomb” (another Matthew Good set staple) surprisingly well, albeit a bit unconventional.
// Our Lady Peace Made a Triumphant Return to Halifax //
In addition to those surprise covers, Raine also explained to the crowd that it’s fun to return to the way a song is conceived, and proceeded to perform an acoustic rendition of “In Repair” which was dedicated to Matt Good’s OK Initiative which has been established to help provide support for those battling mental illness. It was the performance of “Somewhere Out There” that spawned impromptu sing-alongs from those in attendance, and elicited a swarm of LED fireflies to appear in the arena as the band worked through the beloved tune.
Plugging back in, the next track on the bill was “One Man Army” and the megaphone was broken out for this arena rocker. At this point in the set, the band had been digging into its catalogue with a slew of classic cuts and continued the trend as the familiar cut “Not Enough” (from 2002’s Gravity) followed, and slowly devolved into a swampy rocker that stomped menacingly along until it broke away allowing for newly minted OLP percussionist Jason Pierce to show his mettle, before steered the tune back on course just in time to wind it down. The packed Scotiabank Centre was on pins and needles as they awaited the obligatory “Clumsy” to be broken out, and the moment those familiar tones hit, a roar went up shaking the rafters overhead, and closing out the set was the other obligatory cut “4am”, sending folks home with a smile on their ears.
After a short intermission, the band returned to perform “Ballad of A Poet” which was written to commemorate the night that Raine first encountered the magical artistry of Gord Downie and the Tragically Hip. While the Hip performed only a pair of tunes that evening, the course of Maida’s career has been plotted. Then it was the “Hello Time Bomb” cover, and “Starseed” which closed out the evening and sent people to the exits. It’s hard to fathom that it has been a quarter of century that Our Lady Peace has roamed the Canadian music scene, and with a performance like Monday evening’s, you can see that polish and poise, while allowing room to improvise and play. With a fan-favorite set list that was well balanced and drew from all facets of the band’s history, Our Lady Peace sent their legion of fans home with that smile on their ears (whether or not they stuck around to witness the encore).