The Trews helped launch Red Deer’s Westerner Days with a hard rocking performance that left fans stomping in the aisles and waving Nova Scotia flags.
The band that’s been championed by rock radio was also embraced by 1,100 concert-goers at the Centrium on Wednesday night.
Before the music even started, hundreds of people came down from the rafters and crowded around the stage — which is, apparently, just how The Trews like it.
Bearded lead singer/guitarist Colin MacDonald, looking dapper in a white Miami Vice-style jacket, began by “breaking down illusions” with the song Burning Wheels.
The tune featured a howling guitar duet between Colin and brother John Angus MacDonald, who both eventually ended up on their knees.
The Trews followed this with a stream of their radio friendly hits — Not Ready to Go, a tune about overstaying your welcome, which was the No. 1 most played song on rock radio in 2004, So She’s Leaving, which involves a heavy bass beat and caused many fans to jump up and start swaying, and No Time for Later, a hard rocking tune off The Trews’ latest album.
Colin MacDonald has the perfect voice for anthem rock — it’s high and slightly raspy.
He showcased his impressive range in Paranoid Freak, which started with a jangly intro by keyboardist Jeff Heisholt.
Colin then instructed fans to put their hands in the air during Yearning.
The song contains echoes of Celtic music, which were more apparent on the tunes Ishmael and Maggie and I Can’t Stop Laughing.
This latter tune was inspired by Ron Hynes, whom Colin ran into while bar-hopping in St. John’s, Newfoundland.
Hynes “is one of the greatest songwriters in the world, and he told me to write a song called I Can’t Stop Laughing,” said the lead singer, who came up with one of The Trews best singles.
The danceable ditty prompted a scantily-clad girl named Lisa to appear on stage, shake her booty and show off her G-stringed buttocks.
I’d call it an impromptu moment if the band had looked remotely surprised.
The interesting thing about The Trews is just when you think you’ve figured them out as a mainstream radio rock band, they surprise you.
Colin switched his electric guitar for an acoustic one and performed a haunting version of Billy Jean, as an unheralded tribute to Michael Jackson.
The Antigonish, Nova Scotia, band also pulled off a fantastic version of Big Sugar’s I’m A Ram, dedicated to the defunct band’s frontman, Gordie Johnson, who produces for The Trews and who used to live in the Red Deer area.
Then the whole group, including drummer Sean Dalton and bassist Jack Syperek, lined up with bongos, maracas, wood blocks and other hands-on percussive instruments to perform Sing Your Heart Out from a new album, due out this fall.
“We decided to record an acoustic record just for the hell of it,” said Colin.
Soon the group switched gears once again, bringing back the electric guitars and drum kit to finish up the concert with the big hit, Tired of Waiting.
It all made me look forward to hearing whatever The Trews are up to next.