Sloan at Neumo’s | 28 April
I don’t know how many times I’ve heard it from my friend Bill over at Sound Bites that I must see Sloan play live. I actually don’t think I’ve ever had the opportunity until last night. In a word he’s right, you really have to see Sloan live. This Halifax, Nova Scotia band hit the ground running back in 1992 with Smeared. They had a MTV hit in Underwhelmed and then got dropped from DGC soon after the release of their second poppier album Twice Removed. They’ve been releasing excellent records on Murder Records in Canada since then and are proper rock stars there. The US has been another story, each record seems to come out on a different label, though with their signing to Yep Rock I would hope that they’ve found a home here in the States. The band don’t seem to get enough props here in the lower 48, but they do have a bit of a rabid cult following here.
The rabid cultists and t he Canadian contingent were in full force last night, chanting Sloan, Sloan repeatedly while the roadies set up the stage. I heard numerous conversations going on around me about which album was somebody’s favorite, or how many times they’d seen them live and how great it was. In short people were pumped up for the show.
The band came out and pretty much rocked from start to finish. They leaned heavily on their excellent new Never Hear the End of It at the beginning, starting the show with Flying High Again and Who Taught You To Live Like That? Everyone was bouncing along and the Canadians (in the crowd and on stage) were going nuts.
I gotta say, Sloan know how to do the rock thing. They’ve certainly got the big rock rifs, and they’ve got the cool rock star poses and and high kicks, but they do it with such contageous enthusiasm that it makes you wanna have fun too. Chris Murphy who was center stage most of the night, except when he played drums for drummer Andrew Scott’s songs, is a riot. Before he would do his amazing kicks, he’d move to the back and kinda pull up his pants and then get a little running start and punch his one leg into the sky a la David Lee Roth. Things did seem to slow down a bit when Andrew did come out from behind the drums. Though I like his songs, live they didn’t seem to have the energy that the rest of the show had. That could be because he’s an amazing drummer, and the band just isn’t the same without him behind the drum kit. He is total force back there reminding me of Stewart Copeland and Loz Colbert of Ride.
With 15 plus years of songs to choose from they played something from nearly every record. Some of the song highlights for me were Navy Blue’s Money City Maniacs, One Chord to Another’s The Good In Everyone and Pretty Together’s If it Feels Good Do It. The only song that I really wanted to hear that they didn’t play was She Says What She Means, it was on the set list but did make the cut for some reason. All the more reason to see them the next time they’re in town!
Openers, The 88 from Los Angeles were pretty good, though maybe a bit too slick for their own good. They had some catchy power pop songs that reminded me of Squeeze. Not bad, but not amazing either. They were all nicely attired with ties, jackets and fancy shoes.