From playing hockey, to seeing a moose, to partying with more than 500 fans — Sam Roberts had what he called a “quintessential” Canadian day in Red Deer.
“There must be something in the air, in the air,” sang the Montreal rocker on Wednesday night at the Memorial Centre. And there was — the electric energy of a full-on performance by the Sam Roberts Band.
The group rocked out for an hour and a half — until the sweaty, exhausted Roberts implored fans, “You really have to sing this one with me as loud as you possibly can,” before he launched into Hard Road for his encore.
Audience members, ranging in age from high school students to seniors, were happy to help out, since many of them knew all of Roberts’ lyrics.
Fans stood in the aisles, crowded around the stage and swayed in their seats to mega-hits from his We Were Born in a Flame album, such as Brother Down, Walk Away Eileen and Where Have All the Good People Gone? — which featured great guitar and sax solos.
During a brief moment of between-tunes banter, Roberts described starting the day with a hockey game with his fellow band members at the Red Deer Arena. “We play some hockey to keep fit on the tour and to counteract all the other abuses. . . .
“We’re a pretty banged up crew. We’re going to crash hard tonight. That’s what Red Deer does to you!” said the bearded singer, to cheers from the crowd.
Standing centre stage, surrounded by his five band mates, Roberts also performed a variety of songs from his Love at the End of the World album, including the saxophone laden Detroit ’67, the catchy Lions of the Kalahari.
Also included were Fixed to Ruin (which featured a pinwheel light show), and The Pilgrim, with dreamy, hypnotic keyboards and a crescendo ending.
The wiry singer, who’s kind of a thinking person’s rock act, also delivered some of his latest music from his new CD Collider, including Graveyard Shift, the syncopated Let It In, which features interesting, offbeat guitar playing, and Twist the Knife, which involves flute playing instead of a saxophone. I Feel You is a moodier song with echo-ey vocals that compare love to war.
The trilingual Roberts cracked out his French for a few verses of No Sleep, and then pleased fans with a more familiar tune: Bridge to Nowhere, about leading a life of discontent.
Roberts, conversely, appears to be living a pretty appreciative life.
“I saw a moose today, just outside of Red Deer. That’s never happened before a show . . . I guess it was a quintessential Canadian moment,” said Roberts, who later thanked the audience for allowing him to do what he does.
Judging by all the foot stomping and applause his band received in the end, his fans were happy to oblige.
The concert was opened by Zeus. The loud Toronto band showed it has a nice way of taking unexpected musical turns on songs The Renegade and Love Ain’t a Game.