Sam Roberts Band @ Deer Lake Park -- 08/03/09

What better way to spend BC day than at the beautiful Deer Lake Park with some terrific music? I certainly can't think of anything better.

This was the third time seeing Hamilton Ontario's Arkells live, and they just keep getting better every time. Starting off with the albums lead track, Deadlines, their all-too-short set consisted mostly of songs from their debut album, Jackson Square. They did, however, throw in one song which I think was new, and probably called something like Strong Country Boy, if the chorus is to be believed. Songs like The Ballad of Hugo Chavez and No Champagne Socialist sounded awesome like, but one of the highlights of the set would have to be John Lennon, which is one of my favourite song of theirs. It was phenomenal, with a fantastic instrumental interlude, of sorts, mid-song, and the band going nuts. They closed the set with their first single, Oh, The Boss Is Coming which would have brought the roof down, had it not been an outdoor venue. Through their whole set they managed to keep up an incredibly high energy, with it only building in enthusiasm until the end.
I managed to keep track of the setlist, which was:
Deadlines, Pullin' Punches, The Ballad of Hugo Chavez, No Champagne Socialist, Strong Country Boy(?), John Lennon, Blueprints, Oh, the Boss is Coming!

Next up was Vancouver's own Mother Mother. I admit, while I like their singles (some more than others), I am don't know if I would consider myself a fan of the band. They're good, for sure, but they seem to be a little, I dunno... over hyped? That being said, I did enjoy their set. With infectious chords and near-perfectly harmonized melodies, a great stage presence and a knack for catchy indie-folk-pop, they put on a damn good show. Singles like Body of Years were pulled off flawlessly, but it was songs like Wrecking Ball and O My Heart, the ones that are a little more... harsh and raw, that I liked better. I don't think the set made me want to run out and get their new album, as it was pretty much what I expected it to be, but I am definitely interested in seeing how the band progresses and wouldn't mind seeing them again.

Then finally, straight out of Montreal, Sam Roberts Band. Compared to the show earlier this year, I think I liked the setlist for that one better, but overall this was a much better show. Possibly due to the setting, as Deer Lake park is a beautiful venue. He kicked off with Detroit '67, which got everyone into it, but it wasn't til a few songs in that everyone really got jumping with Sam leading everyone in a chorus sing-along of Where Have All The Good People Gone?, which had a really awesome extended intro and ending. Most of the set was focused on his more energetic material, with the majority being from the new album (which is to be expected) Though he did break out the odd mellower song, like Lions of the Kalahari & Uprising Down Under (a song that, I still maintain, will never be as good live as the album version, if only for the lack of Matt Mays) and -- aside from the obvious singles -- he did delve as far back as his first EP, The Inhuman Condition, for This is How I Live.
Brother Down was another massive sing-alone which had everyone yelling out the chorus before the set "ended" With A Bullet.
When they came back out, they kept up the same zeal as the rest of the set, playing the last two singles they hadn't played, Them Kids & Don't Walk Away Eileen. Those were followed by the last song of the night, the same one he closed the show earlier this year with. Mind Flood. The song, perhaps my favourite Sam Roberts song, runs about 8 minutes on the album, but was stretched into almost 16 minutes of insanity, swirling, psychedelic sounds, and, well, there is no better way to describe the song as a Mind Flood. It was quite the spectacular display and, again, heightened by the beauty of the venue.
I was also able to keep tabs on their setlist, and so:
Detroit '67, Love at the End of the World, The Resistance, Where Have All the Good People Gone, Lions of the Kalahari, Fixed to Ruin, This is How I Live, Hard Road, Up Sister, Bridge to Nowhere, Uprising Down Under, Brother Down, With a Bullet.
(encore) Them Kids, Don't Walk Away Eileen, Mind Flood.

I kind of wished they had swapped Arkells & Mother Mother, as I like the former better than the latter and would have liked them to have a longer set... but that minor complaint aside, it was a superb night of music. And what is it with Sam Roberts and his knack for choosing awesome tour mates. Of the three times I've seen him (not counting arts crappy fair), he has played with the following bands: Jets Overhead, The Stills and Broken Social Scene; The Stills again; and now Arkells & Mother Mother. I can't wait to see him again, if only to see who else he brings.