Written by Dave Clements

A hot mid-June Friday night in The Woodlands, TX was somewhat tempered by a nice breeze that made it way more bareable. My wife and I were headed out to review two bands that I had never seen before. I had no idea how the evening would unfold or what I might experience musically; however, Cathi and I were open minded and hopefully would be in for a terrific night of music. Certainly as we approached the venue we could feel there was some really good energy in the air. Lots and I mean lots of people everywhere and lots of upbeat conversation.

When we were picking up our tickets we heard the box office agent declare that the two people to our right were getting the very last two seats available for the night’s show…it was completely sold out! I was surprised but what did I know about the power of Hootie!?

First up at exactly 7:30 pm as scheduled were the Barenaked Ladies from Canada.  I of course had heard of them but had not ever seen them perform live. The setting sun was blasting the stage as they started their set.  It didn’t seem to matter as they went full throttle with total disregard for our humid Texas style heat. Keep in mind this was a band from North of The Border playing darn close to South of the other border.

These four guys are simply great and quintessential crowd pleasers. Besides being very talented musicians they were colorful and lots of fun…Jimmy Buffett fun! They were so engaging and delivered the musical highlight of the entire evening. (That I’ll get to in a moment)

In case you aren’t very familiar with this band, the name of their group consists of two words…Bare and Naked. Don’t they mean the same thing? They have, over the course of their career, sold over 15 million albums, written multiple top 20 hits (including radio staples “One Week,” “Pinch Me,” “Brian Wilson, “If I Had $1,000,000”) and had Ben & Jerry’s name an ice cream after them (“If I Had 1,000,000 Flavors”). Pretty impressive (and think how much more meaningful if Blue Bell had as well!)

Did I mention the Big Bang Theory theme song? Yes…them!

In 2018, the band celebrated their 30th anniversary of touring and were inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame (with Rush vocalist Geddy Lee handling the honors)

We were very entertained by the band throughout their 16 song set as was the sold out crowd who were in their seats, or standing nearby, way earlier in the evening than usual for an ‘opener’! That is a real tribute to these Canadians a far piece from home.

At one point during the set Ed Robertson, lead vocals, stated strongly and credibly the he was about to bring out on the stage long time Barenaked Ladies supporter Sarah McLachlan. The appreciative audience reacted with surprise and enthusiasm only to be told by Robertson that they’d been punked! I thought it was a risky move but he got away if it, barely. Apparently the die-hard fans knew this was sometimes standard procedure.

Now on the how they stole the show…actually it was drummer Tyler ‘Gordy Howe’ Stewart who took the front mic and gave his drum sticks to lead singer Ed Robertson and then belted out Led Zeppelin’s Whole Lot Of Love. Good grief did he kick some Texas Butt! He gave me goose bumps with every high note and when he finished it was like I wanted them to do it again it was so freakin’ good. And as expected nothing the entire night compared in this reviewer’s mind to that 3 and a half minute ZEPPELIN EXPERIENCE.

Now on the main course. The Woodlands Pavilion was serving fish as the main entree this evening in the pavilion stands.

Hootie & the Blowfish have been on a ten year hiatus and they came more than ready to deliver.   The thousands upon thousands that came to hear them came to listen, perhaps with one exception who was seating right next to us. I’ll get to him in a minute.

Darius Rucker aka Hootie is a special entertainer. He just looks like he MUST BE A REALLY NICE GUY! We all know how unique and special his voice is and the Blowfish are just cool, down to earth real and so talented doing what they do.

Collectively Hootie & the Blowfish are out on tour this summer and they have called it ‘Group Therapy Tour’. Sure would like to know how they came out with that name. Maybe it had something to do with the notion that they hadn’t been together much over the last decade and now that they were back touring? Maybe it was about a much needed touchstone from their past collaborations to help them refocus on the here and now.

Regardless, they were beyond cohesive, their long standing relationships obvious in their love of playing for this audience.

Unfortunately, Darius’ vocals were getting a little lost in the mix. Not a big deal but a distraction that I think he would have preferred not to have had he known.

A big highlight of his set is when Darius brought out Craig Wayne Boyd who won Season 7 of NBC’s reality TV singing competition The Voice as part of Blake Shelton’s team. Together they and every single person in the audience, and I mean every one, sang in harmony David Allan Coe’s song You Never Even Called Me By My Name. So much fun and certainly worth the price of admission and folks…this is what supporting live music is all about!

And as you can image they provided so much more during the course of the evening. All after Darius had played 18 holes of golf in the Woodlands earlier in the day. My kind of guy.

Before closing two more comments…one, do you think that most of the people in the audience knew Hootie as Hootie or Darius?

And lastly to the guy sitting just a seat or two away from us, please know we were very impressed that you knew every word to every song that Hootie sang but for goodness sake did you have to scream each lyric such that we could not even hear Darius’ voice? And I really don’t think your buddy was very impressed assuming he remembers it? Fans, enthusiasm is something we ALL understand. When I’m listening and grooving to my favorites I can’t wait until they play ‘those songs’. And YES, I sing along. Please be respectful of those other fans seated around you. Pace yourselves.

Until next time please try your best to support live music!

dwc

 

Final Note…For you die hard Barenaked Ladies fans I’ll give you a heads up that former lead singer Steve Page is playing at Dosey Doe’s Big Barn on October 1st of this year.