He might not be Perfect, but Hedley’s Jacob Hoggard pulled off a thrill-ride of a concert on Thursday night that was pretty close to perfection.
The whirling dervish of a performer strutted his stuff, posed, twirled, and at one point literally bent over backwards in a gymnastic flip for nearly 4,000 fans at the Centrium.
Hoggard even brought a little bit of British Columbia wilderness with him, in the form of two fake trees and an extension-cord lit campfire, in order to share a special moment with his Central Alberta fans.
While sitting on a Styrofoam rock under electric “stars,” Hoggard and the boys — bassist Tom MacDonald, drummer Chris Crippin and Boy-Scout-cap-wearing guitarist Dave Rosin — raised their beer cans to Red Deer.
“It’s a beautiful night for a camp fire. All we need is a campfire song,” said the jean-jacketed Hoggard, as canned owl hoots reverberated around him.
He proceeded to deliver an acoustic version of Gunnin’ — before MacDonald mooned the audience while bending over for another brewsky.
“That’s right. Nothing beats the taste of a nice, cold beer outdoors in Red Deer,” the bare-butted bassist said, to shrieks and chortles from young fans.
The Hedley concert opened in a less boreal setting with the Vancouver group’s hit Cha-Ching, which takes a poke at our shallow, reality show culture.
About 20 people were allowed to rush up to dance around the band as a large screen flashed orange lights. Meanwhile, the Centrium’s floor and stands were turned into a jumping mass of glow-stick-waving humanity by the largely teenage crowd.
Looking rather Freddie Mercury-like in his white muscle shirt and newly grown mustache, the energetic Hoggard, once a Canadian Idol finalist, pulled all sorts of hammy, rock star moves, including taking a run into the audience. At one point, dozens of hands grasped at him as he stood balancing on a hand rail.
Hoggard swaggered through Don’t Talk to Strangers, On My Own, Hands Up, She’s So Sorry, Old School and 3, 2, 1. And he caused a forest of arms to spring up during Shelter and wave along to its syncopated rhythm.
Then the lights dimmed and he showed his softer side with Amazing and a new song called Beautiful.
Hoggard played an electric baby grand piano (they make those?) while singing his torchy hit Perfect, which is climbing U.S. charts.
Bathed in a white spotlight, the singer struck a figurative chord with young fans as he sang “I’m not perfect, but I keep on trying.”
That’s the cool thing about Hedley and Hoggard. Neither the singer nor the band are content to rehash the same sound, but are always trying for something different.
Judging by the fan reaction on Thursday, the risks are paying off big time.
Two other young bands were also in the lineup. These Kids Wear Crowns, a six-man group from B.C., are all about layered vocals and split kicks in the air. The energetic musicians looked as if they were having at least as much fun as the audience while singing their radio single Breaking Up — which, despite its name, is a pretty upbeat dance tune.
So is the catchy Let You Down, by Ontario band San Sebastian, which opened the show.