Volume 92, Issue 58

Tuesday, January 12, 1999



Falling in love with Shakespeare again

Blue Rodeo colours Stratford theatre

Dancing the Quentin Tarantino

Blue Rodeo colours Stratford theatre

Photo by John Bentham
KEELOR AND CUDDY, TOGETHER AGAIN. Canadian legends Blue Rodeo played to a packed houses this weekend at the Stratford Festival Theatre.

By Jamie Lynn

Gazette Staff

Whoever first dubbed Blue Rodeo a country band sure forgot to tell the band.

At Stratford's gorgeous Festival Theatre on Friday and Saturday night, fans were treated to a rare concert performance on the theatre's legendary stage. While the band is not currently touring, they decided to get together for a couple intimate "scratch" gigs before returning to the studio for a new record.

Despite a multi-month absence from the stage, Blue Rodeo provided fans with an absolutely shimmering performance which spanned the length of their 13-year career. A true "mixed bag" of songs helped highlight the band's knack for glorious textures and open spaced rhythms.

Frontmen Greg Keelor and Jim Cuddy led their phenomenal six-piece band through a two set show which lasted for nearly three hours. The addition of a five-piece string section added wonderfully to the composition for much of their newer material.

While some of their radio singles have been known to have a country/rock edge to them, anyone who has seen the band live would be quick to discover the wealth of diversity found within the material. While many have found it easy to link them to the current No Depression movement, Blue Rodeo has been creating their own musical categories for years – a style which seems to only improve and refine itself with age.

Hits like "Lost Together" and "Rose Coloured Glasses" pleased the 1,800 plus fans in attendance Friday, while more bleak and psychedelic numbers like "Five Days in July" and "Diamond Mine" raised the performance to a more captivating level.

The acoustically perfect venue also added to the subtle beauty of songs like "Brother Andre's Heart" and "Dark Angel." While Cuddy's characteristic tenor was in perfect shape, it was Keelor's vocal stylings which managed to dazzle.

By approaching some of his personal material like a form of spiritual therapy, songs like the dark and cello-rich "What's Going On?" put chills down the backs of all who were in attendance. Still, the evening's highlight arrived early in the second set when all band members except for Keelor left the stage. Keelor then proceeded to the edge of the stage to perform an acapella and microphoneless version of "Home," a song written about Keelor's search for his real mother.

A lengthy and inspired encore showed a band on stage who seemed equally inspired by its audience as it was with each other. A thoroughly pleasing performance for its attendants, the band also proved it was not afraid of taking some chances. Without concern for alienating members of their audience, the band took its fans on an occasionally dark and tricky, but ultimately rewarding journey.

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Copyright The Gazette 1999