The Trews @ Commodore -- 11/29/14

Hot off the heels of their latest album, Nova Scotia's The Trews embarked on a cross-country tour. Some lucky stops got acoustic and electric performances, which unfortunately we did not as they hit Vancouver at the legendary Commodore Ballroom. Which, interestingly enough, was the very first place I saw them play ten years & a month ago, opening for Big Sugar.

I got to the venue just to catch the last couple songs from The Glorious Sons. The Kingston five-piece had a pretty straight-forward hard rock sound -- maybe a little too "rawk" for my tastes -- but had a great energy. And the crowd was definitely reciprocating, as a clearly strong fanbase for the band sang along with "Mama", the charismatic lead singer Brett Emmons thrashing and headbanging about the stage.
I definitely wouldn't be surprised if, in a few years, they're headlining the Commodore on their own.

Not long after that, the screens lit up and The Trews took the stage to a canned intro, before John-Angus MacDonald picked up the guitar for the intro of the first song off their new self-titled album -- and namesake of the tour -- "Rise in the Wake".
The Antigonish rockers has always had a great raw energy live, and this show was no different. Lead singer Colin MacDonald had the crowd in his palm from the get go, leading the packed venue to sing their hearts out as the set spanned their five albums (and more). From drinking songs like the aptly named "The Power of Positive Drinking" to songs for the troops (but not the war) "Highway of Heroes"; from all-out rockers like "Age of Miracles" to softer songs, like the sweet "In The Morning" (which was sadly lacking Serena Ryder, as Colin performed her verse as well).
They cheekily dedicated "Paranoid Freak" to Russel Brand and wished him "good luck with his revolution", I assuming a result of his new webseries called The Trews. And as they usually do, the band slipped little bits of others songs into theirs, normally just a few lines of a chorus. Rolling Stones' "She's So Cold" got the nod in "So She's Leaving", and they showed some Nova Scotian love to Joel Plaskett by adding a little of "Nowhere With You" during their self-proclaimed east coast drinking song, "Can't Stop Laughing".

The set came to an end with not one, but two showstoppers. After a phenomenal drum intro from Sean Dalton, "Poor Ol' Broken Hearted Me" burst into a huge singalong, with the band inviting Glorious Sons back on stage to play with them -- and even letting Brett Emmons do a little bit of their song "Mama" in the middle. And after that they wrapped up the main set with another fiery old favourite, "Hold Me In Your Arms" during which the band slipped offstage to leave John-Angus shredding front and centre before he too disappeared from stage, only to come out the side door, walk to the back of the venue, into the sound booth, then back to the stage through the other side... all while maintaining the solo. THEN getting back on stage and accompanying himself on kick drum, before the rest of the band came back to finish.

If they hadn't come back, it would have been a great ending to the show, but they returned for the obligatory encore; an acoustic singalong to another drinking song -- and one of my favourites -- "Ishmael and Maggie" before a cover of Roger Miller's "King of the Road", and finally ending the night night off on one last rocking note, a one-two punch of their first hit "Not Ready to Go" and "New King" from the new album.

Having seen them a number of times now in the last ten years, I am never disappointed by a Trews live show. Their talent and passion, and raw energy, culminate to make them one of the finest live performers this country has to offer.

Rise in the Wake, Fair is Fair, The Power of Positive Drinking, So She's Leaving (w/ She's So Cold [Rolling Stones]), Age of Miracles, Paranoid Freak, Sing Your Heart Out, Hope & Ruin, Oblivion, Where There's Love, Tired of Waiting, In The Morning, Can't Stop Laughing (w/ Nowhere With You [Joel Plaskett]), Permanent Love, Highway of Heroes, Poor Ol' Broken Hearted Me (w/ Mama [Glorious Sons]), Hold Me in Your Arms. 
(encore) Ishmael & Maggie, King of the Road [Roger Miller cover], Not Ready To Go, New King.