The Trews are a Valentine’s Day treat

Trust The Trews to shoot an arrow straight into the frilly heart of Valentine’s Day.

Trust The Trews to shoot an arrow straight into the frilly heart of Valentine’s Day.

Romance came with a jagged edge on Sunday night at the Memorial Centre when almost 700 fans of the Nova Scotia group gathered for a boisterous, foot-stomping acoustic concert that was (lyrically, at least) also full of emotional turmoil.

“This is one for… the cheating hearts, the confused and the philanderers,” said lead singer Colin MacDonald before launching into Man of Two Minds, a tune about a guy in love with two women.

“Sometimes you send up with neither one because you tried to be with both,” he added. “What were you thinking?”

The mostly unplugged band —including Colin’s brother John-Angus MacDonald on lead guitar, pork-pie-hatted bassist Jack Syperek, drummer Gavin Maguire, and keyboard player Jeff Heisholt — got the crowd swaying along in front of the stage to the tune about “selfish fear and foolish pride.”

If that wasn’t a spiky enough valentine, there was also I Can’t Stop Laughing (I’m not even happy).

It was written from a line provided by late, great Newfoundland songwriter Ron Hynes, who once asked Colin to trade a drink for a lyric. “I thought it sounded like a fair trade,” Colin recalled — and the result was the most rollicking tune ever written about a guy getting stinking drunk after being dumped by his girlfriend.

I Can’t Stop Laughing, with Heisholt playing the accordion and John-Angus on the mandolin, got a huge reaction from the Central Alberta crowd — especially the fans who took advantage of the rousing dance beat that’s so comically at odds with the song’s heartbreaking lyrics.

But the thematic misery didn’t stop there: The Trews also delivered Power of Positive Drinking, When You Leave, Hope & Ruin, Poor Ol Broken Hearted Me (which left listeners clapping along), So She’s Leaving, and Den of Thieves, described as a song about a Canadian Bonnie and Clyde, who go out on a bender instead of a hail of bullets.

All of these melodies were so upbeat — often involving Heisholt’s barrel-house piano playing and Maguire doing triple duty on the shakers, drum kit and bongos —you’d hardly know the tunes were about hurt and despair.

The tempo did slow for the most moving song of the evening — Highway of Heroes, written for a female Canadian Forces soldier from Antagonish who was killed in Afghanistan. The chorus of “True patriot love/there was never more” was absolutely spine-tingling.

But music from The Trews generally isn’t about moping in your beer. This rock band celebrates the resilience of ordinary people through songs like Ishmael & Maggie.

When Colin sings “We’re all broken hearted here,” he gives universal comfort to anyone suffering the pain of being human.

The Trews musicians, dressed in suits, were such talented and engaging players they held the audience spellbound over two sets and more than 2 1/2 hours of playing, even though the five sat planted on stools for nearly the whole time.

Other favourites were Hollis and Morris, which finished with a fantastic drum solo, as well as John-Angus’s interesting guitar riffs on Yearning. The band also played What’s Fair is Fair, Sing Your Heart Out, and In the Morning, for which the raspy-voiced Colin capably handled both parts of the duet he recorded with Serena Ryder.

As an encore, The Trews performed Tired of Waiting and Not Ready to Go.

You could say the last song was most appropriate, since there’s no way the audience was ready to go.

lmichelin@bprda.wpengine.com

Just Posted

Legalizing cannabis cost estimate for Red Deer just under $400k

Although the province of Alberta has announced $11.2 million for cannabis legalization,… Continue reading

WATCH: Every square tells a story: Edmonton expert is exploring Red Deer’s quilting history

Community members can bring in family heirloom quilts for documentation

Red Deer-area dads going through divorce are invited to Man Up

Support group formed to focus on positive activities, networking

WATCH: Two weeks away from Canadian Finals Rodeo in Red Deer

In just two weeks, Ponoka’s Shayna Weir will compete with the best… Continue reading

PHOTO: Say goodbye to City Hall Park flowers

A sure sign that winter is on its way is when City… Continue reading

PHOTO: Chew On This! campaign draws attention to national poverty

Lunch bags were being handed out in front of The Hub downtown… Continue reading

Wickenheiser, Pegula reflect NHL’s trend toward diversity

BUFFALO, N.Y. — With a laugh, Kim Pegula’s competitive nature kicked in… Continue reading

Harry and Meghan bring rain to drought-stricken Outback town

DUBBO, Australia — The Duke and Duchess of Sussex were jokingly thanked… Continue reading

TV Review: A Roseanne Barr-less ‘The Conners’ is a triumph

NEW YORK — Can there be a “Roseanne” without Roseanne? The answer… Continue reading

Canadian manufacturing sales fell 0.4 per cent in August: Statistics Canada

OTTAWA — Statistics Canada says manufacturing sales fell 0.4 per cent to… Continue reading

Brian Mulroney joins board of directors of New York-based pot company

NEW YORK — Former prime minister Brian Mulroney is joining the board… Continue reading

Canadians waking up to legalized cannabis: ‘My new dealer is the prime minister’

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — Canadians across the country woke up to legalized… Continue reading

Most Read