Concerts Concerts Sam Roberts Band Charms Massey Hall Crowd

Sam Roberts Band Charms Massey Hall Crowd

Sam Roberts Band at Massey Hall
Sam Roberts Band
Zeus
Massey Hall in Toronto, ON
June 3, 2011

Review by: Lee Fraser
Photos by: Pete Nema

Always known as a charmer, Sam Roberts and his newly dubbed Sam Roberts Band did not disappoint during their headlining debut at Massey Hall.

Sam Roberts Band

By the time opening act, Zeus (see photos below), said their thank-yous and the house lights came back up for intermission, Massey Hall was a-buzz with anticipation. It wasn’t long before Centuries Lounge was at capacity, sales peaked at the merch table and Sam Roberts t-shirts abounded. The crowd was primed for the show to go on.

Fans of Sam Roberts Band are a friendly, happy bunch. They include pre-teens right up to retirees. They include members of local bands and broadcast personalities. They include students scraping by on peanut butter and toast to save up for a ticket, as well as folks dressed in clothes more expensive than a student's worldly belongings. But all of them have one thing in common: adoration for Sam Roberts and his band.

Bathed in yellow and white light, with a lighting rig version of a Large Hadron Collider as a backdrop, Sam Roberts Band took the stage by storm, opening with "I Feel You". The vast majority of the audience was on their feet, hands in the air, filling Massey Hall with the sound of admiration. Sam Roberts (vocals, guitar), sporting short hair and neatly trimmed facial hair, beamed up at the balconies and grooved with the undulating crowd on the floor.

Sam thanked the crowd repeatedly, with frequent references to his awe of playing Massey Hall. Dave "Nuge" Nugent (lead guitar) danced and hopped around, making the most of this momentous occasion. James Hall (bass), as long and lanky as the neck of his black and white mosaic Rickenbacker, played with his usual stoic calm. Eric Fares (keys) engendered rapturous cheering with the unmistakable opening to "Detroit '67". Josh Trager (drums) rounds out this phenomenal band. Joining Sam Roberts Band for this tour, a horn section kept the kick in many of the new tracks, garnering substantial appreciation from the crowd.

This was a night of joy. At one point, several people in the crowd were gazing at the ceiling and pointing at the light show projected there. Throughout the entire show, most people stayed on their feet. Sam and Nuge interacted with the audience, both the people crowded in front of the stage and the folks up in the balconies. During crowd favourites like "Detroit '67", "Where Have All The Good People Gone" and "Hard Road", Sam shouted out "sing it!" and pointed the mic at the audience. Fans obliged in a big way. For "Brother Down", Sam shed his guitar and his jacket and paced the stage, amping up the interaction with the crowd. Getting an unexpected result – half the hall broke into a "Go Leafs Go" chant – Sam retorted "That's what Massey Hall was built on, right? A dream?"

Ending the set with a stunning live rendition of "The Last Crusade" from the new album, Sam and the band left the stage amidst a deafening roar of gratitude. With the Massey Hall curfew in mind, the band re-emerged in minutes to play a three song encore. Nuge gave a shout out to his parents for making the drive from Montreal to see their son play Massey Hall on their 33rd wedding anniversary. After playing "Don't Walk Away Eileen" and "Without A Map", the night ended on a high note with "Them Kids". Sam used up the last few minutes before the curfew shaking hands with everyone crowded at the front of the stage before giving a salute to the crowd and disappearing backstage.

The evening was a balanced mix of perfectly executed new tunes and energetically delivered old favourites. Sam has always had a Trudeau-like charisma and it hasn't disappeared with his tousled locks. If you missed your chance this time around or can't wait to see them again, Sam Roberts Band will be hitting the festival circuit for the summer, and expect to see them back on tour across the country in the fall.

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Zeus

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