Maida, backed by wife Kreviazuk, delights fans

Singer dubs concert "best show of the tour"

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

An inspiring performance by Raine Maida on Sunday night at Cowboys Ranch left little to be desired by a feverish indie rock crowd.

Opening the night was Billy the Kid, wielding an acoustic guitar and an incredible voice. Her youthful appearance " long bangs, jeans and thick-rimmed glasses " contrasted the refined and mature sound of her eight-song acoustic set.

Playing tracks comparable to Neil Young and the Band, Kid’s goofiness and talent were in equal measure.

“I just learned to play this thing,” she quipped, awkwardly brandishing a harmonica. “Hey, next time why don’t you guys all bring harmonicas, too, and we can all play together!”

Up next, and introduced by Maida himself, was Jared Paul, a spoken word artist from Rhode Island.

The slam poet began with a long-winded anti-Bush rant that failed to get the desired response from an impatient audience. The otherwise alarmist content of his poems aside, Paul offered a unique change of pace for the crowd, which was expecting only a night of acoustic rock.

Two and a half hours after the doors opened, Maida, wearing his usual vest and flat cap, finally took the stage with the authority expected of a tenured rocker. Supported by a cellist, a drummer and his “beautiful, pregnant wife Chantal Kreviazuk on the piano,” the singer and guitarist didn’t waste time getting started.

With the sound larger and the messages clearer than on Maida’s solo release, The Hunter’s Lullaby, the performance was a thing of beauty and surpassed what could be achieved in a studio recording. The small size of Cowboys was appropriate " the audience was able to focus on the songs’ lyrics and meaning, rather than be blown away by the wall of sound that might be expected at a larger venue.

“I don’t think music can change the world,” Maida began humbly. “But I know music can change people, and people change the world!”

In addition to songs from the record, Maida and his band also played a few covers to add variety to the set list, including an acoustic remodeling of Billy Talent’s hit “Try Honesty” and a tune by Neil Young.

In the spirit of Easter, the musicians were not drinking beer, but red wine, “cause I’m a good Catholic boy,” Maida explained with a grin. “But really, how many of you had Easter dinner? We had Dominos pizza.”

During the last song of the main set, Maida climbed atop a speaker cabinet to encourage the crowd to sing along.

“This just became the best show of the tour and I had nothing to do with it,” he exclaimed, clearly moved by the emotional fans.

The inevitable encore began with a reversal of roles, with Maida backing up Kreviazuk who sang a beautiful rendition of “Where Is My Mind” by the Pixies.

With her husband back on the lead mic, the audience was happy to sing along to “Innocent” as Maida tapped further into the energy and delighted everyone with the OLP classic.

Ending on a high note, the concert was a spectacular display of musicianship. It’s clear that Maida, regardless of what band backs him up, is a musician Canada should be proud of.

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