Theory of a Deadman got a big, boisterous welcome from a full-house crowd of Central Alberta rockers at Red Deer’s Memorial Centre Saturday.
Local fans embraced the Vancouver-based rockers with whistles, cheers and raised rock ’n’ roll fingers.
Nearly 700 people jumped to their feet as soon as Theory of a Deadman started with So Happy on the graffiti-decorated stage at 10:30 p.m., after two opening bands finished their sets.
This was followed by the group’s anthem to “hillbilly” slum living, Lowlife.
Admittedly, I had always considered Theory to be a fairly obvious, male-centric band and I was not disabused of this when Connolly dedicated the next song to all the “hot” ladies in the audience.
It was The Bitch Came Back.
Women around me actually danced along to the lyrics “I like her so much better when she’s down on her knees,” and “Well she’s so f—in’ stupid, bet she’s singing along.”
The group’s defenders will argue these lines were meant to be tongue-in-cheek, but given everything that’s come out lately about a certain radio personality’s sexual peccadillos, I was speechless.
Connolly eventually apologised to females in the audience for that intro, saying “It’s not nice.” He tried making amends by launching into one of the “nicer” love songs the band has written, All or Nothing, and by buttering up the crowd.
“Alberta’s one of my favourite places to play. You know why? Because you are good, honest people here. We love you guys,” said the singer and guitarist.
I was harder to win over, but the rest of the audience roared its approval.
Connolly later launched into Nothing Can Come Between Us and Hurricane. I preferred Theory’s more edgy renditions of Blow, I Hate My Life, and the band’s newest singles, delivered with colourful jets of theatre smoke, Drown and Savages. (Connolly did a mid-song rant about society’s downslide in the latter, the title track from the group’s new album.)
There was a refreshing truthfulness to the simmering tension and underlying anger in these tunes. They somehow suited the band’s uncomplicated temperament more than the love/break-up songs did.
While the four musicians, including led guitarist Dave Brenner, bassist Dean Back and drummer Joey Dandeneau, usually stood their ground on stage and did little interacting, they were impressive players.
Brenner particularly showed his fancy finger work on acoustic versions of the pretty song, Angel, as well as No Surprise.
While sitting on a stool downstage, he made his guitar sound sitar-like on the latter — very cool.
The song Better Off got one of the night’s biggest reactions. The crowd also loved the hits Not Meant to Be, Santa Monica and, of course, Bad Girlfriend.
And yes, I got it that the last one is tongue-in-cheek.
Connolly promised Theory of a Deadman would return to Red Deer sooner this time— and I’m sure a lot of the group’s fans will want to hold him to that.
The concert started out with two very different opening bands.
Head of the Herd, from Vancouver, is actually a blues band in rock clothing. (Well, actually the musicians’ clothes were retro — white shirts, black ties and suspenders. . . )
There’s a sultry, sexual vibe to the group’s music, particularly on When I Met the Devil, You’ve Got Me Now, and Don’t Think You Will, featuring a duet by Willacy and Mannas.
Best known for the single By This Time Tomorrow, the band is made up of vocalist Neu Mannas, guitarist Clayton Frank, keyboardist Brittany Willacy, bassist Kevin Webster and drummer Matty Carolei.
Gloryhound from Halifax, seemingly has one speed — fast.
While musicians Evan Meisner, David Casey, Shaun Hanlon and Jeremy MacPherson, could stand to occasionally dial down their tempo a bit, their group could prove to be one to watch.
The hardest strumming guitarists of the evening performed some good songs, including TK Tokyo, Suzie is a Man, Loaded Gun and Keep a Light on You.