The Trews @ Rio Theatre -- 11/27/09

I think I would have to say that The Trews are one of my favourite live bands. They just have a raw power and energy to them that is almost unparallelled. So when I found out they were doing both an acoustic album and supporting tour, I was equally intrigued and cautious to see how they would translate to an acoustic style. After picking up the album, I was relieved, since it was great. But even though it was a live album, I was still a little wary of the show itself. How would this band, who is so incredibly dynamic live, do acoustically?

There was no opening band, interestingly enough, and The Trews came out a little before 8. With (swivel) chair/stool-things on stage, they all sat to play making it seem like a pretty intimate show, despite being in a movie theatre (a fact that they joked about a couple times). They started the set with two of my favourite songs of theirs, Poor Ol' Broken Hearted Me and then Every Inambition. I was really glad that they did the latter, not just because of it's a fave, but because that isn't on their acoustic album, so it showed promise that a lot of older songs would be played during the set. Between just about every song, lead singer Colin MacDonald introduced them, sometimes with an amusing story. Like how their "hockey song" was dedicated to the Canucks... in Vancouver. When they were in Calgary, it was dedicated to the Flames, etc etc. After a few songs they brought out "Mr Fancy" (long story) on the accordion for a few songs, including When You Leave, which they called the "Cajun" version of the song; a really cool interpretation. Some more highlights were Yearning, which itself was was pretty great, but had an awesome "middle". Most of the song was played before everyone but the MacDonald brothers left the stage, at which point they segued into a Cat Stevens cover. Then Colin left, leaving John-Angus alone to absolutely blow everyones mind for a good 3 or 4 minutes of his incredibly amazing guitar playing. I've siad this before about him, but WOW, he is one HELL of a guitar player. Then the rest of the band came back and they finished up Yearning before closing up the first half of their set with Not Ready To Go. Not only was every person in the sold out theatre singing along to the chorus, but it included a new song called The Power Of Positive Drinking, which is exactly what it wounds like -- and just as awesome.
After a short intermission, they came back for the second half of the set, which included some more old songs, like Hollis & Morris, featuring an brilliant drum solo from Sean Dalton. They've done that in every live show before, but when you have the drummer going for a crazy solo on a single snare drum, a conga drum and what I think was a bodhrán, it makes it all the more impressive. They slipped in another cover, an Elvis Costello song, in the middle of Can't Stop Laughing. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I love it when bands slip in random cover songs in the middle of their sets, and The Trews are usualyl pretty cool about that. Each time I've seen them, they've done a few different cover songs either in whole or a single verse or chorus slipped in mid-song. Another one of my favourites, Ishmael & Maggie, was as awesome as expected and they ended the second set with Hold Me In Your Arms. They came back for the obligatory encore with current single, Sing Your Heart Out, which just about everyone in the crowd was doing for both this and another cover, this time a full song: Oh La La by Faces (it's the song that goes "I wish I knew then what I know now"). After that they switched gears a little with another new song, Highway of Heroes which was very heartfelt and actually kind of sad. They ended the set with You're So Sober and another song which I am totally blanking on.

It's been said that the mark of excellent songwriting is when you can strip a song down to its core, and it still totally works. The Trews managed to take songs from their entire catalogue and do just that, making excellent acoustic versions. I was actually kind of surprised that there was an almost equal spilt between all three albums, with their first maybe even getting the most focus. In the end, I realize it was silly to doubt The Trews on their awesomeness. The live show was still incredibly excellent; to the point where I would possibly say that both the songs and the show were as good as, if not better, than the electric version.

Setlist: (again, I seem to be missing ONE song and I can't seem to remember or figure out what it was...)
Poor Ol' Broken Hearted Me, Every Inambition, Paranoid Freak, So She's Leaving, Den of Thieves, Locked Doors, When You Leave, Travelling Kind, Yearning (w/ Where Do Children Play [Cat Stevens cover]), Not Ready To Go (w/ The Power of Positive Drinking)
Fleeting Trust, Gun Control, Hopeless, Tired of Waiting, Love You Save, Hollis & Morris, Can't Stop Laughing (w/ Next Time 'Round [Elvis Costello cover]), Man of Two Minds, Ishmael & Maggie, Hold Me In Your Arms,
Sing Your Heart Out, Oh La La (Faces cover), Highway of Heroes, You're So Sober, [mystery song]