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Barenaked Ladies lead spirited H.O.R.D.E. Tour at the Molson Amphitheater
by Errol Nazareth
Toronto Sun, Toronto, ONT
Jul 28th, 1998



"This next song includes the pieces of chicken that don't make it into the McNuggets," offered Steven Page of the Barenaked Ladies.

The next time you hear a band introduce a song like that please inform us, 'cause for now, no one provides as many laughs in concert as our very own Ladies.

Part of the H.O.R.D.E. (Horizons Of Rock Developing Everywhere) Tour that parked at the Molson Amphitheatre last night, the Ladies' set was one of the most memorable of the sprawling event. The musicianship was air-tight, the cats were funny as hell, and their sunny slices of clever pop were eaten up whole by the 6,000 in attendance.

In between songs, the Ladies sang the ditty that accompanies the Ex commercials, talked about how "our mayor's obsessed with the Spice Girls and how the newspapers are obsessed with the mayor's obsession with the Spice Girls," and welcomed "the mayor of Toronto - Sporty Spice" to the show.

The group had us laughing our heads off when they listed places in Toronto worth visiting - a list they'd given to tourmates Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals, Blues Traveler and Alana Davis, to name a few. These included Brampton, Gerrard Square Mall, the Avon Motel at Kingston Rd. and Brimley, and the 407 Express Toll Route.

The Ladies kicked out the jams from past efforts and were joined by Blues Traveler's John Popper on "If I Had $1,000,000".

They're the only Canadian group on the H.O.R.D.E. Tour currently criss-crossing North America, and they're representin' us nicely. Appearing third on the mainstage was Toronto fave Ben Harper, who wasted no time delighting hardcore fans and making converts of the rest.

Those of us who were fortunate enough to catch Harper's memorable gig at the Horseshoe three years back knew instinctively back then that it was just a matter of time before Harper's spiritualized blues would reach the masses.

A prodigiously talented axeman, Harper feels guitar as much as he plays the thing. Seated throughout the Criminals' one hour set, the L.A. native eked scorching acid blues and achingly beautiful sounds from his vintage hollow-necked Weissenborn slide guitars.

Harper concluded his set as he always does: Standing centrestage with his fist raised and eyes closed, he sang "Still I Rise", a poignant poem, in his distinctive crying, plaintive voice.

Immense.

Opening the proceedings was Alana Davis, who wowed critics with her remarkable debut album, Blame It On Me, last year.

Like Harper, she deftly mixes grand grooves with her folk and offers introspective lyrics rare in contemporary pop.

Loudly sewing things up were the raucous sounds of Blues Traveler, who established the travelling festival six years back.