RBC Ottawa Bluesfest – Day 5.
Day 5 – rain delay.
Today’s headliner: Foreigner.
Weather: Pouring rain, then a double rainbow, then a cool clear evening.
Tokyo Police Club: Just being honest here, saw 2 energetic songs before I took shelter in the Canadian War Museum from a deluge of rain. The only note I wrote on this show was: Is there really a Police Club in Tokyo? Does the house band sound like this?
Styx: Picture it – after a HARD downpour, a double rainbow appears over the festival grounds, announcing the arrival of the sun. The soundtrack? STYX!
Yes, Styx are over-the-top cheesy prog rock. But, they are also over-the-top cheesy prog rock. Loud, synth-heavy, lots of harmonies, huge drum fills. Top notch dinner theatre.
Queens of the Stone Age: I have seen Queens of the Stone Age tour every album since 2002’s Songs for the Deaf. That’s not to boast, just to imply that I’m comparing them to lots of other shows they’ve played. And yesterday was the BEST I’ve ever heard Queens of the Stone Age sound.
As the sun went down, the heavens parted and QOTSA tore into a tight rip through their greatest hits. By the 3rd song (My God is the Sun), the sound was PERFECT – and with perfectly still, hot, humid air, the conditions were perfect for an outdoor concert.
As is always the case with Queens of the Stone Age, they were sporting a fresh new lineup this time around. Gone was drummer Joey Castillo, IN was new drummer Jon Theodore – a metronome of a man who is better known for his drumming with The Mars Volta and One Day As A Lion. Where Castillo sounded frenetic and looked like Animal playing the drums (not a critisism), Theodore is a tight groove lock, and certainly technically capable of playing all those great Dave Grohl fills.
There were plenty of great moments last night – the perfect conditions after a storm, the rain delay pay-off, an impromptu ‘happy birthday’ singing from the crowd for bass player “Mikey” Shuman, a singalong with I Sat By the Ocean, a note-for-note perfect version of Little Sister…
I’ve not seen any other band more than Queens of the Stone Age, and this was the best I’ve seen them.
Foreigner: Why do I feel like the lead singer from Foreigner is being played by Ben Stiller?
Jake Bugg: I can’t imagine Jake Bugg performing in a more ideal setting for his song style and performance, than in a muddy field on the banks of a river after a big rain storm.
Jake Bugg is a young man with 2 albums under his belt. One is multi-award winning and critically acclaimed, and the other was produced by Rick Rubin. Not bad for a 20 year old. His songs transcend his age just as much as his successes; an old soul. He has a truly unique style… there are lots of bands who sound like Tokyo Police Clubs, but there is only one guy who sounds anything like Jake Bugg.
Although I’m certainly not complaining about a performer of this quality being on the lineup, it is a bit of a shame that he couldn’t be scheduled in with a big country night. Jake Bugg’s songs sound like Hank Williams era country played through a kid who grew up listening to Liam Gallagher.
An excellent show – perfectly void of flamboyance.
Gareth Emery: You can tell in an instant that this guy is not from North America. Not a complaint, just that the trance/house music he plays, the lyrics-on-the-screen visuals are on the opposite end of the spectrum from most of the trap-heavy, drop-obsessed dance music that typically comes from ’round here.
Make no mistake, Gareth Emery is a legend (hundreds of releases, constantly voted among the top DJs in the world by DJ magazine). Is it the freshest sound on the planet? Probably not. But, this guy is a rock star. And a big happy crowd danced their happy faces off last night.