OVO Fest has quickly morphed into a must-see happening, Blue Rodeo’s yearly August show has almost become a non-event.">

Concert Review: Blue Rodeo at the Molson Amphitheatre


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Blue Rodeo hit the Molson Amphitheatre on Saturday night, the second of the venue’s two annual showcases involving made-it-big local talent. But where Drake’s OVO Fest has quickly morphed into a must-see happening, Blue Rodeo’s yearly August show has almost become a non-event.

Sure, Saturday’s attendance represented a slight step up from recent years — a bump that could be attributed to the numerous comped tickets distributed, along with the fact that The Ex ran concurrently with the show this year — but it was another safe, predictable show from Jim Cuddy and co.

Under another clear sky (Blue Rodeo shows always seem blessed with phenomenal weather), the band gave their fans the show that has come to be expected. They dipped into their formidable songbook and cranked out the favourites (“Cynthia,” “5 Days in May” and “Hasn’t Hit Me Yet” got the biggest pre-encore responses) and offered up no shortage of local references as an appreciative nod to the crowd.

The only distinction between this show and those of previous Augusts (aside from the lights aglow backdrop from The Ex’s giant ferris wheel) was the somber tone set by Cuddy in recognizing the band’s recently deceased former keyboardist, James Gray.

Don’t get me wrong — there is nothing wrong with the consistent quality performances of Blue Rodeo. The 19-song set was without a low point while still allowing for a growth in energy that bubbled over during an encore of “Til I Am Myself Again,” “Try” and the show-capping “Lost Together,” which is always best served under a clear, starry sky.

But the end result is a crowd that is left more satisfied and content than buzzing. The only real surprise of the night came in the form of the show-opener, Bahamas (a.k.a Afie Jurvanen), a local musician who served up 45 minutes of impressive folksy/bluegrass sound. But as far as surprises go, Kanye West he is not.

The concern here is that as perfectly solid as Saturday night’s show was, there existed a looming sense of Blue Rodeo moving further and further away from relevance and into under-appreciation. Sure, the long-time diehards will stick around, but will a new generation of music fans end up missing out?

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