The Band Perry blew into Red Deer like a southern typhoon, sweeping some 4,700 fans into its energetic vortex of gothic-flavoured country rock on Wednesday night.
The three Perry siblings worked the Centrium crowd with all the gusto of a hair band from the ’80s.
With sequined Kimberly Perry singing every song like it was her last and Reid Perry playing the bass like he was in Aerosmith, only the melodic plinking of Neil Perry’s mandolin and Jason Fitz’s soulful electric violin kept the over-the-top tunes on this side of Freddie Mercury and Queen.
But who’s complaining if the American trio pushed their sound well past country, squarely into glam rock territory? It was quite a show as The Band Perry proved to be consummate showmen (and woman).
Fans’ fists were pumped into the air as the group opened with DONE, which is not written in capitals for nothing.
As Kimberly sang, “Don’t wanna be under your thumb, All I wanna be is done!” three large video screens at the back of the stage flashed real-time images of the performers. Smokin’ electric guitar riffs by Andy Davis also added extra oomph to a song about not putting up with any crap.
The siblings, who were backed by two guitarist, a drummer and fiddle player, next sang Night Gone Wasted about cutting loose — a sentiment appreciated by the mostly young, female crowd.
Performing “is one part therapy and two parts recess … we get to leave our troubles at the door and be one big family under this roof,” said Kimberly, as fans shrieked their approval.
The silhouetted image of a crow perched on branches hung with broken hearts was projected onto the video screens, casting a gothic tinge on You Lie, one of the band’s big hits.
A love song to Red Deer was delivered with All Your Life — followed by a pep talk by the black-clad siblings.
“Be proud of yourself, no matter what,” said Kimberly, who played the acoustic guitar as well as sang. The blond recalled her awkward teenage years when a relative left her shattered with the nebulous remark, “You know, Kimberly, some girls are just so beautiful — be happy that you’re smart!”
Reid confided that some people try to bring him down a notch by stating, “‘Your hair is way too long for country music’ … I say, ‘I’m not going to cut it!’ ”
Holding up his compact mandolin, Neil said, he’s heard the comment, “Does that come in a man’s size? … You know what I say? ‘I put the man in mandolin!’ ” he added, prompting laughter from the crowd.
On the empowerment song I’m A Keeper, with the memorable lyric “your daddy is a pistol and you’re a son of a gun,” the musicians managed to crank up their energy level to about 120 per cent. There was a big finish that entailed Kimberly dramatically climbing to the top of a long set of stairs, one arm raised in the air.
More heightened lyrics could be heard on Postcard from Paris, about being disenchanted with a steady romantic partner after being blown away by the sight of someone else, and Chainsaw, about wanting to obliterate the initials carved into a tree by an inconstant lover.
The group also performed Don’t Let Me Be Lonely, Pioneer, Double Heart, a spine-tingling version of Amazing Grace, and a cover of Queen’s Fat-Bottomed Girls, with Neil singing lead. But the two biggest hits were saved for the encore.
If I Die Young, The Band Perry’s quadruple-platinum-selling, No. 1, crossover single sounded that much more poignant with several thousand young voices singing along, absolutely in tune — a rare and breathtaking achievement.
The powerhouse trio wrapped with the searing Better Dig Two, another southern gothic number about obsessive, slightly deranged love. As stage smoke curled around their legs, all three siblings upped the tension by pounding in unison on big drums.
Like Emily Bronte’s novel Wuthering Heights and the Twilight saga, this song about undying devotion hits exactly the right notes for young, starry-eyed romantics — proving The Band Perry knows its audience.
However, the group’s real strength lies in also being plenty entertaining for those outside this demographic.
The concert was opened by Florida singer Easton Corbin and Calgary’s Lindsay Ell.
Corbin is a mainstream country singer who has been compared to George Strait. Yes, he is traditional and has a pleasing enough way with a song, delivering A little More Country Than That, All About Tonight and That’ll Make You Wanna Drink — which sounds tailor-made for a Bud Lite commercial.
Ell, who was discovered by Randy Bachman, impressed us with her ultra-cool lead guitar playing, as much for as her voice, on tunes such as Trippin’ on Us.