Heading to the Ontario Place/CNE area to see Randy Bachman perform You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet, Hey You and Takin' Care of Business was, for me, like going home again. My first concert as a 12 year old budding rock fan back in 1975 was BTO at the old CNE Stadium.They were touring on Not Fragile and it cemented my burgeoning love of rock and roll as well as the guitar. A year later the same band at the same venue, this time on the strength of Four Wheel Drive, would host my second concert.
So here it is some 32 years later and I'm in the same area, this time for Bachman Cummings Overdrive at Ontario Place's Molson Amphitheatre last Thursday to re-love those early rock and roll nights, with a fair doppling of Guess Who thrown in for good measure.
Opening with American Woman 2007 the new, funkier version of the classic hit American Woman that Bachman Cummings used to close their last album, Jukebox, the set comprised eleven Guess Who numbers, four BTO and two covers fro the Bachman Cummings Jukebox. In all, seventeen songs, seventeen well known hits, 15 by the artists on stage.
If it's just hits you want there's many a bar with an unknown band playing lots of them every Friday and Saturday night. Bachman Cummings, however, are better than that. They played through the set with ease and agility, Bachman's renowned guitar playing shining through and Cummings' sharp beautiful voice still sounding great, even if it has grown nasally through the years.
Cummings' voice may, in fact, have been the shows one weakness. While he sounded fine, he shared the singing duties almost evenly with Bachman, leading one to think he may not have the vocal strength the carry an entire show any more. Since Cummings was lead singer on all those classic Guess Who songs, his solo work was completely ignored. It says a lot about these guys that they played wall to wall hits for 90 minutes and could leave songs like My Own Way to Rock, Break it to Them Gently and I'm Scared un-played. But the show would have been stronger with a few of them none the less.
I'm nitpicking: starting with American Woman 2007, which is better live than on disc, the show progressed to You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet with Bachman showing an improved voice, to surprising audience favourite Clap For the Wolfman, complete with audience hand clap. The fun included Bachman calling for cowbell playing Cummings to give him "more cowbell" Christopher Walken style, during Hey You.
Fun is the operative word. There was nothing fancy to this night: the lights were basic, there where no fire works, no over long solos. Just two talented performers, backed by a very competent band (The Carpet Frogs) having fun. And in turn the audience had fun, which is what a concert is supposed to be about.