Canadian bands rock Mile One

Justin Brake
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Roberts' encore worth the price of admission

Buy two cases of beer and get a free ticket to a rock show. What started out as a great deal turned into one of those, "You missed it b'y," brag to your friends the next day scenarios.

The vibe and noise levels at Mile One Centre Saturday night were ones for the books as the all-Canadian rock lineup featuring Sam Roberts, Matt Mays and El Torpedo, and Newfoundland's Hey Rosetta! played to a near-packed house of raucous youth, mostly in the 19 to 25-year-old range.

Sam Roberts performs at Mile One Saturday night. - Photo by Justin Brake/Special to The Telegram

Buy two cases of beer and get a free ticket to a rock show. What started out as a great deal turned into one of those, "You missed it b'y," brag to your friends the next day scenarios.

The vibe and noise levels at Mile One Centre Saturday night were ones for the books as the all-Canadian rock lineup featuring Sam Roberts, Matt Mays and El Torpedo, and Newfoundland's Hey Rosetta! played to a near-packed house of raucous youth, mostly in the 19 to 25-year-old range.

Attendees only had one way to snag tickets, by purchasing two cases of Molson Canadian beer on a designated day back in November.

Judging by the enthusiasm in the corridor, where lineups at beer concession stands were often 30-40 people long, the beer-concert promotion worked.

Hey Rosetta!, playing their biggest indoor show to date, furnished a gritty set chock-full of material from "Into Your Lungs," while Matt Mays and El Torpedo proved they've made the arduous transition from club rockers to stadium rock band, evident in the performance of their new material, from last summer's sophomoric effort "Terminal Romance".

Even during a sound glitch in the middle of their set, which saw Mays and the band jamming on stage to no avail as if someone had hit the mute button, fans lionized the guys for their unrelenting stage presence.

The Sam Roberts Band owned the night though.

"It's absolutely wonderful and a privilege to be back here in St. John's for the first time in a few years," the Montreal native announced a few songs into his band's set.

Roberts, whose debut full-length record "We Were Born in a Flame" earned his band a reputation as one of Canada's top rock 'n' roll acts in 2003, is now touring in support of "Love at the End of the World," their third effort which has already generated a pair of singles, "Them Kids" and "Detroit '67."

The set was more than anything a showcase of hits and fan favourites spanning the band's young career, including "Brother Down," "Lions of the Kalahari," "This Wreck of a Life," a toned-down "Bridge to Nowhere" with Roberts on acoustic guitar, and an impressive performance of "Them Kids," a catchy little ditty from the new record.

The light show was dramatic and offered a myriad of effects throughout the night, often illuminating the crowd which, from the seats, resembled an overhead view of old St. John's on a winter's night with smoke rising from the chimneys.

The sets were relatively short. Hey Rosetta! got about 25-30 minutes, Matt Mays around 40, and Roberts and his band played about 13 or 14 songs over the course of 75 minutes or so.

But it was Roberts' encore that was worth the cost of admission alone.

"Let's keep this thing going a bit now!" he proclaimed as he and the band picked up their instruments and began a long, unrecognizable musical prelude that eventually morphed into the 2004 hit "Where Have All the Good People Gone?"

When Roberts changed the lyrics to replace "Hong Kong" with "St. John's" the crowd went into a frenzy, throwing their fists in the air and singing - shouting, rather - along to the song.

The band chose their latest single as the second encore performance. "Detroit '67" was immediately recognizable by its piano intro and early crescendoing drum beat.

Mays joined the band on stage for "Uprising Down Under," from the 2006 album "Chemical City," and announced, "Tonight's a rock 'n' roll night!" - something anybody in the crowd with a set of ears had probably already concluded.

A 10-minute performance of "Mind Flood," also from the 2006 record, ebbed and flowed from rock to a Pink Floyd-style psychedelic rock, and was a classy (as classy as rock 'n' roll gets) way to send people staggering home, or down to George St.

The staggering being a corollary of the music of course.

Organizations: Molson, Pink Floyd

Geographic location: St. John's, Newfoundland, Detroit Montreal Canada Hong Kong

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Recent comments

  • Ryan
    July 02, 2010 - 13:31

    Hey Rosetta were great, except the sound wasn't mixed that well. They are playing at the Rockhouse this weekend, and will no doubt sound much better.

    The Sam Roberts set was AWESOME. Like the article says, he played a lot of psychedelic tunes (and didn't play Dont Walk Away Eileen).

  • Doug
    July 02, 2010 - 13:11

    Two of out 3 weren't bad....but Hey Rosetta were brutal!!!

  • Ryan
    July 01, 2010 - 20:20

    Hey Rosetta were great, except the sound wasn't mixed that well. They are playing at the Rockhouse this weekend, and will no doubt sound much better.

    The Sam Roberts set was AWESOME. Like the article says, he played a lot of psychedelic tunes (and didn't play Dont Walk Away Eileen).

  • Doug
    July 01, 2010 - 19:48

    Two of out 3 weren't bad....but Hey Rosetta were brutal!!!