Thursday, July 13, 2006

Live Review: Live/Nelly Furtado/Mobile, Main Stage, Ottawa Bluesfest, July 12, 2006

Last night was my one and only main stage show of the entire festival. The area in front got very full very quickly, which isn't surprising given that it girl du jour Nelly Furtado was up tonight. The majority of the crowd was comprised of female twentysomethings with lots of them wearing those awful bumblebee sunglasses, like the kind Nicole Ritchie wears. (Girls, in ten years you are going to look at pictures of yourselves and go, "What was I thinking?")

First up was Canadian U2 wanna-bes Mobile. Without legislated requirements for Can-con music to be played on the airwaves, this group would have absolutely no future, and the less said about what little future they do have, the better. And any band that uses pre-recorded samples gets a thumbs-down in my book.

Next was Nelly. She came on wearing a form-fitting black dress and gold platform shoes, looking like a million bucks. Along with a couple of dancers and an MC, it was time for some guilt-free bubblegum pop courtesy of the #1 artist on Billboard.

Although she seems to have gone a little skanky these days, Nelly's outfit and stage presence was all class, with slinky (but not slutty) moves and lots of crowd interaction. The audience was very enthusiastic for hits both new, like "Maneater", and old, like "I'm Like a Bird" which featured a Bob Marley interlude ("Everything's Gonna Be Alright"). I especially enjoyed hearing "Turn Out the Lights" because I remember my first night in Cancun in winter 2002 with my buddy Leroy walking into the Bulldog nightclub hearing that over the PA system, which began one of the most fun vacations I've ever had. Good times and a great show by Ms. Furtado, even if she didn't play my favourite tune by her, titled "Remember the Days". If she plays her cards right, she'll have a lengthy career.

Finally, Live. This band often gets lumped with pedestrian rock groups like Third Eye Blind and the Goo Goo Dolls, but I have to admit that their 2001 album "The Distance to Here" is one of my favourites of the decade so far. This set was like a greatest hits. Almost everything was there: "I Alone", "Selling the Drama", "Lightning Crashes", "Lakini's Juice", "All Over You", "Heaven", "The Dolphin's Cry", "Run to the Water", "Dance With You", and a few tunes from their new album as well like lead-off single "The River". The only two tunes I would have liked to hear that they didn't play were "Turn My Head" and post 9/11 tribute to the FDNY, "Overcome". (Then again, they were playing the capital city of a country where a former three-term majority Liberal PM said that the US had the terrorist attacks coming, so maybe they just dropped it from the set for last night's show. But I digress.)

Uber-confident lead singer Ed Kowalczyk seemed to feed off the crowd as the show went on, and I think that's probably because they haven't played to a number this large in quite some time. Another suprising highlight was the very creative and not-lame-at-all cover of Cash's "I Walk the Line". Of course, all the Nicole Ritchies knew every word, but I doubt that 10% of them could tell you what Fulsom Prison is. Anyways, last night's show was one of the top three I've ever seen at Bluesfest. There's nothing better than a two or three beer buzz, the evening sun, and great live music.

Individual ratings:

Mobile: 4/10
Nelly Furtado: 8.5/10
Live: 9.5/10

Overall rating: 8.25/10


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