By Thom Jennings
Niagara Gazette — It was not a sellout crowd, but the audience at Blue Rodeo’s show Tuesday was the most tenacious of the season, withstanding the worst of a short but ferocious downpour less than an hour before the band hit the stage.
The rain caused about a 40-minute delay, giving the crew time to squeegee the stage and another crew the opportunity to blow-dry everything in sight with what appeared to be leaf blowers.
The rain certainly didn’t dampen the spirits of the group’s fans. It’s been a long time since I have seen a crowd that loved a group as much as Blue Rodeo’s audience did. They knew all the words to the songs and danced happily in the aisles as if there never was a rainstorm.
When the show finally did start the band launched into an impressive version of “Head Over Heels” including the lyrics, “I’m sick and tired of waiting with nothing to do watching the rain through the crack in the window, it’s the little things that get you through like the same sun rising on me is rising over you.”
While the sun never reappeared over Artpark, at least the rain never came back either.
It was a very different crowd from what I have been used to this season. The beer lines were non-existent, and yet the line to get a cup of Tim Horton’s coffee was ridiculously long. There were also many parents with their children in tow, making it a very family friendly and joyous event.
Musically the band sounded magnificent. Jim Cuddy’s vocals were spot on all evening, whether he was singing a ballad or an up-tempo number.
The band really hit their stride late in the set with a hot version of “Diamond Mine.” They took the set to a new level with a powerful and apropos version of “After the Rain,” that really captured the emotion of the evening.
They followed up with a wonderful cover of the Bee Gee’s song “To Love Somebody.” It was a great choice and Cuddy and Greg Keelor did a fantastic job on the harmonies, making the song thier own and not trying to mimic The Bee Gees.
Another highlight of the night was the massive sing-along for “Hasn’t Hit Me Yet.”
In more than 30 years of concert going, I have never heard a crowd sing so much of a song, my guess would be that it was at least three full verses before the band joined in. The Lake Ontario reference in the song was also met with raucous applause.
The regular set ended with “Rock Revival,” and the band exited the stage for a very short time before returning to perform three encores, “Til I am Myself Again”, “Try” and “Lost Together.” They dedicated “Try” to a friend named Mary from the Buffalo area who is going through some difficult times.
Overall, it was a great evening of music with one of the best behaved and yet enthusiastic crowds I have seen at Artpark. Given the amount of water on the stage and other challenges, it’s pretty amazing they pulled off the show at all.
My only complaints are that my feet are soaked and I never did get that cup of coffee.Thom Jennings covers the local music scene for Night and Day.