Review: The Alehouse, Kingston, ON, May 5/12

By Jane Flood – Original Trews Fans Network content

Trews fans were blessed with perfect conditions for Saturday, May 5th: it was a beautiful, clear night for the show at Kingston’s The Ale House and it was no problem at all to stand in line beneath the “Supermoon” and pass the time chatting with friends, while waiting to get in for the sold out show. Once past security and the ticket counter, people did get right to the business at hand, though – either to the bar for drinks or to stake out a spot for a good view of the stage. We had decided beforehand to head for higher ground, and managed to get close to the the rail along the upper level. There was a good mix of all ages already there and I noted, somewhat warily, that we had a few young couples and a group of girls to share our space with. I had read one Trews concert review that stated an older crowd needs the order of an assigned seating venue, but was I hopeful that this would not turn out to be a ruinous time for our “older crowd” trio…

The two opening acts, The Strumbellas and The Balconies, were energetic -The Balconies frenetically so, compared to the “folk popgrass” Strumbellas – both earnestly wanting to set the stage for a good night with The Trews. By the time The Balconies finished, and the crew was in the midst of getting things changed and set up for the main act, people were moving in closer with anticipation. It was around 11:30, and some had been waiting since 8, starting out on the sidewalk before the doors opened. A quick welcome and “Are you Tired Of Waiting?” from one of the K-Rock radio station personalities, and the lights went out and a bagpipe intro began. My first impression of seeing The Trews as the lights came up and they made their way to their instruments was that they were pleased to be playing in the city – Colin said as much – and they looked the way I felt after the nice dinner and glass of wine that I shared with my friends before the show.

As things progressed, it struck me that the night’s moon must have had some effect on the band – everything seemed bigger and brighter than their concert I had been to in Toronto in March. One could argue that I was a whole lot closer to them at The Ale House than I had been at The Queen Elizabeth Theatre and was just enjoying the improved acuity, but I thought Colin’s voice was stronger, clearer and Jack & John Angus’ vocals seemed better, too. The flow between songs was, well, beautifully flow-y and seamless. The guys exuded a maturity and confidence that would appeal to older adults, yet they held the rapt attention of all the kids down along the front of the stage. I’d only had one liqueur, on top of that glass of wine, so this assessment couldn’t be due to the effects of alcohol. Will chalk it up to the moonlight.

I gave up a bit of my space and good view to a slight girl who appeared on my left and stuck her artistically tattooed arm past me, to rest it on the back of a chair, so she could capture a song or two on video. The four girls in front of me danced to “Not Ready To Go”, growing more animated with “Paranoid Freak” and rocking out to “So She’s Leaving” and “Hold Me”. I was surprised with what these younger people responded to – the girl on my left sang along happily to “Tired Of Waiting”. She must have been 11 or 12 when that song came out; I wondered if she grew up with The Trews, because her parents or an older sibling listened to them. The girl closest to me from the Group Of Four was happy when the boys launched into their recent single “Misery Loves Company” – I had thought that 2011’s Hope & Ruin CD would resonate more with older fans, but she and her friends were pretty enthusiastic with the newer material. I think I knew more of the lyrics to “30 Days In The Hole” and “The Love You Save” than they did, though – there has to be some benefit to having been around longer.

Other favourites of the audience included “I Can’t Stop Laughing” (with “No Time For Later” added in) and “Poor Ol’ Broken Hearted Me”. It was nice they did “Sweetness”, as it was requested by a fan earlier that day on their Facebook page. Sean was in an unassuming, taking-care-of-business mode throughout the set until the group left the stage for his drum solo. He had our undivided attention, adding some levity when he tossed a couple of pairs of drumsticks into the crowd. Jeff was excellent, and he & Colin had a kind of dueling keyboards thing going on during “If You Wanna Start Again”. I enjoyed hearing the “Romeo and Juliet, Samson and Delilah” bit from Bruce Springsteen’s “Fire” – slid into “One By One”, I think, but it’s not on the set list that was posted on The Trews’ wall (hard to verify, then… will have to resort to crib notes, with this poor memory!). “Highway Of Heroes”, with its blacked-out ‘moment of silence’, was a crowd-pleaser, as was “Sing Your Heart Out”. You’ve got to love a guy who expects nothing less than everyone taking over for him during a sing-along number like that one, and I couldn’t help but think that it would have been a perfect sunset and evening to be out on the road with someone. Heck, it could be the dead of winter and Colin’s vocals would make you want to steal away like that.

The encore began with “Ishmael & Maggie” and I wondered if it would seem a little less like the party it was in Toronto, when their opening act and a few other guests had joined them onstage for this song. Turned out it was satisfying enough to see just the five of them, especially when gathered around two mics for the a cappella ending of that number. They then welcomed “Kingston’s own”, Gord Sinclair and Paul Langlois, from The Tragically Hip, which my two friends thought was great. Everyone else seemed to think so, too. They did a tribute to the late Levon Helm of The Band with two songs, wrapping things up with “Cripple Creek”. Trews and Hip men alike took turns singing a verse and the yodeling was a great bonus – so much fun and well done – that can’t be an easy feat.

Accomplishing what this band has done in, out of, and for Canada is not an easy feat – any group that can put together a show like this and playfully interject “y’all are pretty good for a bunch of Canadians” into one of their hits, deserves loyalty and a big following with great success. They have created a first class stature for themselves, by virtue of their singing, songwriting, musicianship, and performing ability honed by a near-constant touring regimen. Here’s hoping they get what they deserve – and a few moonlit nights to just be able to kick back and enjoy.



For the fans, by the fans. Since 2005.
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