Maybe it was because it was the first indoor rock concert I’ve been to in five years. Maybe it was the band, which after almost 40 years together is tight, polished and knows how to please a crowd.
There seems to always be one band that epitomizes Canada, that lurks in our collective psyche. Today Blue Rodeo is arguably Canada’s band, having caught the torch thrown by The Tragically Hip a few years back.
When I was young The Guess Who were Canada’s band. After them perhaps came BTO, then Rush. Bands that were ours first, before we shared them with the world. Canada’s band, whomever they are, aren’t in the American centric rock and roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland (except for Rush) – but they are in our hearts.
Blue Rodeo in concert brings with it a sense of the familiar. On their current tour the band doesn’t play every song from their greatest hits record – it just seems that way. The evening feels comfortable; tunes from the new record are somehow familiar. Strong vocals, interwoven with solid musicianship, with some new songs thrown in made for a memorable evening. When the guitar and mandolin intro for “Hasn’t Hit Me Yet” takes off, you start to wonder if the band will add their voices to the many thousands who have already started singing this signature tune.
As I listened, I pondered what makes this music timeless and relatable. Why does Blue Rodeo stand the test of time?
Partly it is the simplicity of theme. Love lost is a recurring note in their repertoire – and who among us doesn’t have some memory of having loved and lost? It is pretty much a universal.
Universal also are the themes of love won and life on the road. It is a big country; Canadians spend a lot of time on the highway trying to get from point A to B. No matter where we are going, Blue Rodeo have played a concert there since the band started in 1984. No wonder their latest album is titled Many A Mile.
I think the appeal is also in the voices. Most bands have a lead singer. Blue Rodeo has two. Jim Cuddy and Greg Keeler are both good singers – but together there is something magical about what you hear. The music is a way defines description. A little bit folk, a little bit country, a little bit rock and roll, Blue Rodeo are the soundtrack to the lives of a whole generation of Canadians.
It has been a long two years, and we haven’t seen many bands performing live. It was obvious that Blue Rodeo have missed the road. We on the road have missed them – and are so glad they are back.