SHARE

Canadian pop-rockers Barenaked Ladies ventured to the UK this year for a short tour in support of their latest album Silverball. Performing in Cambridge has always been a highlight of their trans-Atlantic schedule, particularly, by their own admission, at a venue where Corn used to be Exchanged…

Set opener “Boomerang” began with Kevin Hearn’s dainty synths, giving BNL’s sound a retro-80s vibe that contemporaries such as Everclear have also dabbled with in the past few years. Last year’s single “Duct Tape Heart” further established this direction, and, to be honest, why not channel your inner Taylor Swift in this day and age?

Highlights included audience favourites such as “If I Had A Million Dollars”, a country-inspired take on the American Dream complete with accordion and close harmony vocals. “Odds Are” was a key song to rouse the well-behaved audience to a kind of mosh-lite action. Actor and icon Gene Wilder had not long since passed, which cued a beautiful arrangement of “Pure Imagination” that captivated the Corn Exchange.

The most identifiable aspect of BNL’s shows in general are the fun, happy-go-lucky vibe that permeates not just their incredibly well-crafted songs, but their audience banter too. Amidst the new material and familiar favourites was a consistent desire to make us laugh at every turn, whether it be a rap about Cambridge life or the comedic stylings of drummer-turned-OTT-front-man Tyler Stewart. Swapping positions with lead vocalist Ed Robertson, Tyler delivered an entertaining medley at the evening’s end, featuring everything from Led Zeppelin to Darth Vader’s Imperial March. The Dark Lord himself even made an appearance…

There’s a reason why BNL is deemed one of Paul McCartney’s favourite bands. Their energy and likeability is infectious, and is heightened even more so in a live environment. Coupled with some surreal and hilariously disconcerting support from long-time friend Boothby Graffoe, Cambridge hopes to enjoy the BNL live experience again before too long.

Words by James Proctor