Barenaked Ladies, Manchester Academy, Monday 25 November
Tuesday 3rd December 2013 @ 06:30 by Max Wieland
Entertainment

Barenaked Ladies

 

If you look hard enough, there is always a first of its kind in any moment and as the Barenaked Ladies (BNL) kicked off their UK tour in Manchester last week that moment arrived in its entirety.

For in the midst of the Academy’s fairly crowded front section was a young chap glued to his iPad, hardly breaking contact from his cherished electronic device throughout the groups 105 minute set.

But if there was a night for the out of the ordinary, then this was it.

From hit singles to improvised raps and songs, BNL pretty much covered it.

The Canadian band kicked off proceedings with Limits, which is the opening track from their latest album, but it wasn’t until their third song – Pinch Me – that a mundane Manchester crowd finally awoke.

Recounting an hilarious side-splitting tale from earlier that day, Lead Singer Ed Robertson described how: “In 25 years of staying in hotels, I have never awoken to a window cleaner staring at me after parting my curtains, I don’t know what told me to put pants on this morning, but I’m sure glad I did.”

Robertson had caught the crowd’s attention in one clean sweep and the subsequent improvised melody of their hilarious story was not only comical but it completely changed the dynamics of how the evening had started.

The crowd consequently lapped up any of Robertson’s requests there on in and sung with force to new song Gonna Walk, which had a sort of Proclaimers-ish feel to it before blasting into another of their new songs, Keepin’ It Real, which stunned the crowd into a state of awe, such was its difference to BNL’s back catalogue.

With electrifying pace and a heaviness not often associated with the alternative rockers, it was a welcome turn of speed before returning to their more famed sound.

A re-shuffle of instruments and stage positions followed and gave drummer Tyler Stewart a well-earned breather as the quartet split up their set list with an excellent acoustic section, most recently popularised by acts such as Mumford and Sons, but as Robertson rightly pointed out, “just remember, we were rocking the banjo long before Mumford even had sons.”

Such was the enjoyment from their superbly laid out 21-song set, it was hard to distinguish which brought more of a highlight, the bands fantastic comedic timing in between songs, or the breath-taking way in which they eased through their superb history with such fine-tuned precision.

Particular highlights for the majority of a near capacity crowd understandably centred on Barenaked Ladies three most popular songs to date, the Big Bang Theory Theme tune, One Week and If I Had $1,000,000 which were all whistled off in quick succession before their excellent encore.

A medley of popular songs such as Gotye’s Somebody That I Used To Know, Will.i.am and Britney Spears Scream and Shout and Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing was mashed up with some rather surprisingly suave choreography, some grand beat-boxing from Robertson and on a whole three minutes of completely forgetting where you were, unless of course you were fortunate enough to be holding an iPad.

Any past gripes with punters recording live shows still stands, but if there was an exception to excuse the daft man with the iPad, then last Monday was an appropriate excuse to have!

Review by Max Wieland