Our Lady Peace

support Retribution Gospel Choir
author PP date 07/08/12 venue Varsity Theatre, Minneapolis, USA

Yours truly is currently exploring the American Midwest prior to a wedding arrangement in Seattle later this week, and given the strength of the music scene over here in Minneapolis, it was a given that at least one amazing band would pass through the city during the week I'm spending here. The honors fell on seminal Canadian alternative rockers Our Lady Peace. It turns out they haven't visited Minneapolis in ten years, which probably explains why only a couple of hundred people have shown up at Varsity Theater, which could probably house upwards of 1000 people if they opened the balcony area, effectively classifying them as 'mellem Vega' if there was such a venue in Copenhagen. Considering this is a band that has sold millions of records up north and would probably play in front of thousands if not tens of thousands just a few hundred kilometers north of Minneapolis, it's a special occasion for a long-time fan like myself (and especially my local Canadian friend) to be almost able to walk right up front for a show like this. The support for the show came from Retribution Gospel Choir, but unfortunately we were not able to catch the band on time tonight.

Our Lady Peace

So it's been ten years since the last Our Lady Peace show, and they could start the show in a variety of different ways. They could either go for a bombastic crowd pleaser, a hit single, or a generally popular song to get the crowd going, but instead they choose to open with a more progressive and experimental piece "Rabbits", which is from their latest album "Curve" that was released a couple of months ago. While it's not the strong opener most of us were expecting, it functions as a good song to ease the crowd into the set through a more mellow approach, especially because the band have brought along cool video effects behind them, so it gives the crowd time to adjust to the stage set up after all this time apart.

"Hello Minneapolis, thank you for being here", says vocalist Raine Maida, before proceeding to the second new song tonight, "Allowance" from "Curve", which has received a mixed response from critics thus far. Tonight, both the opening numbers and later songs "Heavyweight" and "As Fast As You Can" prove though that at least the big songs from the album work wonderfully live, with especially the latter two being of the caliber that you can expect to meet in their live shows for years to come.

That said, as soon as the band ventures into their classic material on "One Man Army" as the third song, the crowd gets decidedly more energetic and naturally more sing-along prone, this even though Raine improvises on the vocal department somewhat, teasing us for the classic Our Lady Peace moments for just a little bit longer. "Superman's Dead", however, is a pitch-perfect rendition of the original, and triggers a huge sing along during the "Doesn't anybody ever knoowww...doesn't anybody ever knoooowww... doesn't anybody ever know" moment, where the band quiets down all the instruments and the vocals in order to allow the crowd to respond with all their force.

This is probably the defining moment of tonight's set, as from here on, Our Lady Peace play so many amazing songs in such a professional, experienced manner that not one of us, even those of us who are watching the band for the first time ever (Ashley!), can deny that we're watching a great show unfold before us despite the relatively low attendance tonight. That vocalist Raine grabs a megaphone and passionately moves about in his designated space on the stage is one thing, but that he sings almost pitch-perfect classics in the form of "Is Anybody Home?", "Not Enough", "Clumsy", "Somewhere Out There", "Innocent" and others helps underline why this band has sold millions of records in Canada alone. The lively video animations that take place behind the band are pretty cool, but to be honest, whenever the band explores their hit material nobody is watching the back screens as everyone's eyes are focused on Raine's unique vocal talent. Nowhere else is this more evident than during "4am", where he moves away from the microphone and quiets down his voice in strategically placed moments to allow the crowd to sing along in an admirably loud response, which suggest that at least 90% of the crowd are shouting back the lyrics at the band given the volume of the sing along despite such a small crowd.present tonight.

It's multiple moments like these that push the show over the edge from merely being a good show into being a great one. Our Lady Peace not only demonstrate tonight why they've sold millions of records worldwide, but also that the somewhat weaker albums of recent years have not taken a toll on their live show. Because if they are this good with three underwhelming albums underneath their belt, it's with pure jealousy that I think back at their performances ten years ago.

Setlist:

  • 1. Rabbits
  • 2. Allowance
  • 3. One Man Army
  • 4. Innocent
  • 5. Superman's Dead
  • 6. Paper Moon
  • 7. --unrecognized--
  • 8. Monkey Brains
  • 9. Is Anybody Home?
  • 10. Not Enough
  • 11. Blister
  • 12. Clumsy
  • 13. Somewhere Out There
  • 14. Heavyweight
  • 15. As Fast As You Can
  • --Encore--
  • 16. If This Is It
  • 17. 4am
  • 18. Starseed

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