Blue Rodeo @ The Grand Social - 21st May 2016


There was no doubting that this was a largely partisan audience who packed the venue to see one of Canada’s finest roots bands play a rare gig in Ireland. They returned after a six year absence as a acoustic four piece to play an 90 minute plus set full of songs that were firm favourites with the band’s fans. The full band was stripped back to allow a less stressful musical setting to help accommodate founder Greg Kellor’s sensitive hearing and tinnitus. Not that the performance was affected in any way as Greg along with fellow founder Jim Cuddy on guitar, mandolin and piano, bassist Basil Donovan and guitarist Colin Cripps delivered compelling proof as to why they remain such a popular and dynamic band.

The latter played some outstanding, extended acoustic guitar lead breaks throughout. Having seen him play a Dublin show with Kathleen Edwards, where he was equally excellent on electric Telecaster, he deserves any credit due to him for his skill and sensitivity as part of the band. That in no way detracts from the musicality that the other members brought to the show. After the Rain was one such song that had all guitars firing on all cylinders.

Cuddy said at the head of the show that as they don’t get here that often they would consider some requests and were immediately bombarded with song suggestions. Some of the songs needed no introductions were others were given a little background. One such was the song What Am I Doing Here? about the time they played a State Fair, as headliners, after a multi-group ‘Battle Of The Bands' contest. Another was the story of getting away in the hope of trying to save a relationship. In which the lady in question picked up a sand dollar and made a wish before turing to him and saying “oh, you’re still here”. The inspiration for the song Disappear.  

Other songs that hit home included Hasn’t Hit Me Yet, ’Til I Am Myself Again, Cynthia, Try and my particular favourite 5 Days In May and judging from the reaction a lot of others too. They also included a rarely played song (Finger Lakes) for promoter Paul (McGee of this parish). Lost Together was started by Kellor singing off mic and with the audience joining him in the chorus - one of those moments that usually only occur when an audience is as one with the band; when the affection comes from both sides of the stage.

After the gig many expressed that they thought that this gig was one of the best they had attended. One person, who had seen them many times previously, both here and in Canada, was of that opinion. Indeed it was a more intimate setting than the band usually play back home. It was that kind of special evening were everyone involved went away with a smile on their face.

Review and image by Stephen Rapid