On October 12th 2013, Canadian Alt Rock pioneers, 54-40, graced the stages of the Commodore Ballroom for what is believed to be a record 50th time. It has been a long travel for the band, over 30 years as a group, over 2000 performances logged, 16 albums (a number of which achieved platinum sales), multiple Juno nominations (I counted 8), and a dozen top 10 hits, and a reputation for putting on a great live show.
After a great opening from Pete Werner (photos and review here: Pete Werner- The Early Show), and a brief break, 54-40 took to the stage.
Here is the set list for the show:
Nice to Luv You
Crossing a Canyon
She’s a Jones
Radio Love Song
Lost and Lazy/ Jet (cover)
I go Blind
Love You All
Not surprisingly, even a 19 song set list from 54-40 managed to miss a few of their stand-out singles (for example, Blame Your Parents wasn’t included) but then it’s possible that the irony of some of their older lyrics might have been lost to time with the changes in musical tastes. However, when put to brass tacks, 54-40 are most able to take the rock they created and roll it right, much as they did on this evening. Lyrically, their zen-like approach to it all has withstood the changes in popular music and for the better- songs filled with hummable melodies, infectious rhythms, and harmonious hooks.
All of the songs performed on this evening were wisely chosen, and the inclusion of a bass section “The Brassaholics” certainly added a brighter edge to several of the songs. The crowd were also treated to a new song, Lost and Lazy, which was uniquely arranged to segue into a cover of the Wings classic, JET. From a technical perspective, Music Man was perhaps the most complex song on the night, with stand out moments for every performer on the stage, and it was interesting to learn that the song was named after an old man they met in LA. There were even a few moments for show-boating as singer/guitarist Neil Osborne reached out to the crowd with his guitar.
She-La – a single from 54-40’s 1992 release Dear Dear
Above all, the vibe for the evening was gratitude and humility, not just in words, not just in the gift of a free drink for everyone in the crowd, but it was in the sincerity- an intangible which cannot be faked and can only be felt. When Neil mentioned to sold out venue that one of their hopes as a band was to one-day play the Commodore, attendees at the show would come to understand that 54-40 are, above all, a band whose members have not lost sight of what it means to be an artist.
Love You All – the excellent encore song from 54-40
On this evening, the 54-40 owned the stage, held the crowd, played their hearts out, and left nothing in the tank. When viewing our photos, keep in mind that the 70 photos presented are culled from a short-list of 85 which, in turn, was selected from hundreds- most of which display a level of character and action which often seen over the course of an entire show, not during the first three songs which is when these were taken.
Photographs and words © Gerry Toews / anditrocks.com
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