Barenaked Ladies + Better Than Ezra + KT Tunstall

Los Angeles, California (June 15, 2018) – At 7 pm sharp, KT Tunstall leaped from the wings of The Greek Theatre, Los Angeles, CA, to take her place behind the microphone at center stage. She radiated joy in her shimmering silver dress, and electric pink eyeshadow, congratulating the crowd who had managed to fight the rush hour traffic to make it in to the venue for her set; Tunstall was the first performer of the night on this stop of the Last Summer on Earth Tour, #LSOE2018 followed by Better Than Ezra and headliners Barenaked Ladies. “You’re the lucky ones who get to enjoy the full effect of my pink eyeshadow,” she joked.

KT Tunstall © Splice Magazine – Temma Hankin. Please do not alter images.

Tunstall began the set with two mellow songs, “It Took Me So Long To Get Here, But Here I Am”, from her recent album, Kin. Followed by “Other Side of the World” off of her debut album, Eye to the Telescope. Not content to let the audience relax in their seats, she launched into her high energy bluesy hit, “Black Horse and the Cherry Tree”, which prompted cries of recognition and a chorus of crowd members ‘woo-hoo’ing along.

Tunstall kept them on their feet, slipping into a verse of The White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army”, before continuing with her own songs. She finished off her performance with an enthusiastic rendition of “Suddenly I See”, another popular hit, and was rewarded with cheers from the crowd.

Better Than Ezra © Splice Magazine – Temma Hankin. Please do not alter images.


As the sunlight turned golden, Better Than Ezra took to the stage, lead by their charismatic singer Kevin Griffin. Appropriately, they opened with “Extra Ordinary”, a sing-songy, sun-soaked, record scratch filled single of theirs, which name-checks Barenaked Ladies and cribs a line from “One Week”. The crowd nodded along in approval but didn’t fully let loose until the third song, “Good”, the track that launched Better Than Ezra to the top of the Billboard charts in 1995. “Now that’s nice”, Griffin said over the cheering fans and opening chords; “it’s like an old friend that calls out of blue”. Griffin energetically bounced and strutted around the stage for the entire set, dancing around bassist Tom Drummond, drummer Michael Jerome, and keyboardist James Payne.

During the funky, falsetto-filled “Juicy”, Griffin tossed his guitar to a waiting roadie, grabbed a wireless microphone and danced off into the heights of the amphitheater, declaring “the cheap people are about to be rewarded!” From the crowd, he gleefully watched the rest of the band perform an interlude that included songs by Sugarhill Gang and Naughty by Nature, allowing them each some time to show off their skills. After Griffin returned to the stage, Better Than Ezra played the remainder of “Juicy”, and left to a roar of applause.

 

Barenaked Ladies © Splice Magazine – Temma Hankin. Please do not alter images.

At 9 pm, the sun fully set, the house lights went down and the stage was illuminated by the glow of a large LCD screen, displaying four familiar silhouettes. The audience shifted in their seats, eager for The Barenaked Ladies to take the stage. The ‘Ladies’ took their places, smiling greetings and directing nods towards familiar faces in the crowd. The altrockers began cheerfully with “Odds Are” a poppy, optimistic song from the 2014 album, Grinning Streak, following it up with “Say What You Want,” a melodic goodbye track which frontman Ed Robertson delivers with just the right amount of bitterness creeping in around the edges of his vocals.

The mood was quickly brought back up by the next song, “Pinch Me”, which had the packed house swaying along with their arms and hips, from the first drum beats until the last notes faded away. “Bringing It Home”, off the recently released, Fake Nudes was next, another song which makes good use of Robertson’s rapid-fire livery skills.

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After a few more songs from Fake Nudes, KT Tunstall joined the band on stage for an electrifying rendition of “Brian Wilson”, which has been an integral part of the band’s show since their 1992 debut album, Gordon. Robertson and Tunstall breathed fresh energy in to the classic, alternating verses and clearly enjoying themselves; during the frenzied cacophony that closes the song, Tunstall threw herself to the floor and writhed on stage with her guitar.

After the chaos of “Brian Wilson”, the stage dimmed and stagehands brought out a small light grid to the front of the stage, creating a set-within-a-set feel. The band brought their instruments right up to the edge of the stage, and settled in for the acoustic portion of the evening, teasing drummer Tyler Stewart about his tiny stripped down kit. This new set up gave an intimate feel to this portion of the show – at least as intimate as a 5,000 seat amphitheater can be made to feel. The band asked the audience to help sing a song, and instructed them on the call and response portion of “Gonna Walk”, off of Grinning Streak. After checking that everyone knew the words, Robertson quipped “now, everyone look around you… If you see anyone not singing along to the chorus, that means they’re a racist!” ensuring that the whole theater would shout along as requested. They played several more acoustic variations of tracks from their recent albums, again capping it off with a song off of their debut, “Enid”.

The band returned to their full stage setup, and were joined by Kevin Griffin of Better Than Ezra, to perform “Lookin’ Up”, an upbeat number that he co-wrote with Ed Robertson. AAfterward bassist Jim Creegan took center stage for a funky solo jam session, before being interrupted with the unmistakable intonation of “it’s been-” which can only lead to one thing – “One Week”, or “that Chinese chicken song”, the band’s best known single. The crowd cheers and tries to keep up with the fast-paced verses, as the band dances around the stage. They know that this song is what some of the crowd has been waiting to hear, and they happily oblige. Another fan favorite hit is next; “If I Had $1,000,000” is the perfect follow up, allowing the audience to catch their breath as the band joyfully lists all of the things they could buy with that much money.

The energy keeps soaring upwards, as Barenaked Ladies begin one of their signature live medleys, combining popular songs with improvised rap verses. Tonight, the BNL Rap ran through several decades of familiar songs, ranging from songs such as Portugal. The Man’s “Feel It Still” to The Marvelettes’ “Please Mr. Postman” and The Beatles’ “Let It Be”. The medley culminated in the entirety of Queen’s “Another One Bites The Dust”, during which Tyler Stewart traded his drum kit for a microphone stand wrapped in white tape and did a Freddie Mercury impersonation that has clearly been honed for many hours in front of a mirror. After bringing down the house with their Queen homage, the band briefly left the stage, returning to perform a two-song encore. The night concluded with a soothing lullaby of “Light Up My Room”, which gently returned the crowd to earth after the kinetic highs of the show. The Ladies took their final bows, and stepped off stage, confident that they were leaving the crowd satisfied.

When a band has released 12 full-length studio albums, it can be difficult to find the right balance of new material and older hits; Barenaked Ladies have over 25 years of material to draw from and are always careful to mix in fan favorites with their more recent releases. Tonight’s show was no exception, and the amphitheater and surrounding hills reverberated with applause from start to finish, thanks to another well-crafted performance from one of Canada’s finest exports.

Barenaked Ladies:
     

Better Than Ezra:
     

KT Tunstall:
     

The Greek Theatre:
     

Author: Temma Hankin

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