By Jesse Espana
Love was in the air for Valentines Day as Sam Roberts Band kicked off a brief Canadian tour at the legendary Massey Hall for a sold out, love struck crowd.
For over a decade, Sam Roberts Band has been the shining light for Canadian music, especially the rock genre. Hailing from Montreal, the band has released 6 studio albums and fans got a taste of each one at his Toronto stop.
They started out their set with the first track of their most recent album Lo-Fantasy, as well as a few more from the also recent album Collider. Throw in through out were many of Sam Roberts’ hits like “Where Have All the Good People Gone?” and “Hard Road,” both of which were featured on the bands Platinum certified album We Were Born In Flame.
The band was lively for the most part. Sam and lead guitarist Dave Nugent provide the most excitement as the worked the crowd and interacted with each other the most during songs. The rest of the band seemed fixed on what they were doing.
At various points in the night, Sam talked to the crowd, focusing in on the very fitting theme of love. He mentioned how he often goes into the writing process with the idea of discussing certain thoughts and ideas but always seemed to mention love. The crowd seemed to have definitely clung on to that notion as the venue were on their feet from start to finish, dancing and enjoying the night with loved ones.
Unfortunately, it was the dancing that caused some issue for staff throughout the night. A couple across the aisle from me was having a great time, enjoying their night, the beer, the music, but were often forced back into their seats and out of the aisle. It’s matchups like this, Sam Roberts Band and Massey Hall that confuses me at times.
They aren’t a band to sit and listen to. They don’t play a genre of music that requires intense concentration to take in the experience. The experience is having a few beers, singing your heart out to the music, and mingling with those around you. But it just didn’t feel like this was the place to do it. Playing around with a line from the band’s song “Them Kids,” the kids don’t have room to dance to rock and roll.
As such, I’m sure the staff was just doing their jobs and trying their best to avoid any fire code violations. It just would have been nice to see the chairs at Massey Hall completely gone to allow for some more fluid movement the crowd seemed to be wishing for.
Sam also talked about his experiences of playing at the iconic Toronto venue and said playing there was both the best and worst feeling in the world. Standing on the stage where many Canadian greats have before them, such as Gordon Lightfoot and Neil Young, is one thing but the acoustics are very unforgiving when it comes to mistakes made on stage. I’m sure thankfully for Sam and the band, very few were made.
The band played to stellar backdrop that had a triangle, similar to that found on the band’s newest release, at its center. The screen often created cosmic imagery for songs like “Golden Hour” and “Love at the End of the World,” and a full b-roll clip for “Detroit ’67.” I really enjoyed the how the screen projected a live shot of the crowd during multiple songs, giving us a glimpse into what it’s like to be up there on stage.
Sam Roberts Band provides Canada with the very sound that has made us so great for many years. They continue to pump out relatable, exciting rock music that over translates perfectly when seen live. Sadly, there are fewer and fewer acts like Sam Roberts Band today and when they hit Toronto it’s never a show to miss.
The Last Crusade
Where Have All the Good People Gone?
Fixed to Ruin
Let It In
Love at the End of the World
I Feel You
Bridge to Nowhere
Chasing the Light
We’re All in This Together
Uprising Down Under