Last night was a special, invite-only/win-to-get-in show from The Strumbellas at The Roxy, presented by Jim Beam. The special VIP passes (which all three of us here at 3amR managed to finagle) included a bourbon tasting beforehand and a meet & greet with the band, before they took over the small club.
But ahead of them, opening the night, was Toronto's Luke Austin. Joined by his band, they played some pretty straight forward, high-energy rock n roll. They were a strong opening band, their songs blending together a little bit, but definitely got the crowd pumped up. Especially with a cover of "Proud Mary" by Creedence Clearwater Revival (or perhaps channelling Tina Turner's version) with somehow segued into "Lose Yourself" be Eminem, quite possibly the first time that combination has been mashed up.
It wasn't long then before The Strumbellas hit the stage, the six members (donning wigs and hats they found backstage) starting off with "Wars" from their latest album Hope, which has been huge for the band. The band focused mostly on that and their previous We Still Move On Dance Floors as the band bubbled over with enthusiasm for the intimate crowd.
The set was full of their spot-on harmonies on songs like "Home Sweet Home" and fun, stomp-and-clap along songs like "End of an Era", with a little bit of darkness underneath their "Folk Popgrass" sound.
Other highlights included the raucous "Young & Wild", violinist Izzy Ritchie taking over a little on vocals for "Rhinestone", and, not to be upstaged by Luke Austin's Eminem, lead singer Simon Ward slipped a quick rap verse into "Did I Die?"
They ended the show with a nice one-two punch of the Platinum selling single "Spirits" with people singing along, and finally ending off with the anthemic "Shovels and Dirt" as they built to a powerful climax to end off the night.
The Strumbellas are a really enjoyable band to watch live, and if you missed the show last night, do I have good news for you. Just this morning they announced a tour, including another Vancouver show on October 16th, joined by none other than The Zolas at the Commodore. That should be a helluva night.
End Of An Era
Young & Wild
We Don't Know
Home Sweet Home
Did I Die?
The Hired Band
The Long Road
Shovels and Dirt