It was a “can of sardines” scene at Metropolis on February 10th, with a definite feeling of love for a hometown boy that was about to reciprocate it with a musical force.
As the Sam Roberts Band took the stage at Metropolis they proved they were thrilled to be home. In no way was it a relief feeling, as it was only last summer that they played Osheaga. It was more a like a joyful family reunion, as the band kicked it off hard with “I Feel You” from their new album Collider.
As red lights lit up the stage and polka dots swirled around the ceiling, Sam Roberts, looking very much the Canuck wearing a faded blue jean jacket, shouted out to the crowd, “We are the Sam Roberts Band from Montreal!”
The mélange of songs that ensued during the two-hour show demonstrated the diversity of melodies Roberts has experimented with over the 11 years since the debut release of The Inhuman Condition. Sounds that were sometimes bluesy ("Fixed to Ruin"), progressive ("Mind Flood") and completely alternative ("Bridge to Nowhere").
The heavy guitars by lead guitarist Dave Nugent along bassist James Hall were awesome, except they often drowned out keyboardist Eric Fares and guest saxophonist Chet Doxas. So much so that if you did not look across the stage you would not have known they were there.
Sam Roberts consistently displayed his love for the craft as he belted out his tunes and danced along to every one. His jiving was evidently infectious when looking out at the sea of fists and hands swaying along. There was even a crowd-surfer when he sang the hit “Where Have All The People Gone,” as well as lighters flickering during the more soulful “Partition Blues.”
The light show was spectacular and reminiscent of a 70’s psychedelic show, with prisms of light flashing out at the crowd and swirls of light rippling off the ceiling.
Roberts, being the true Montrealer he is, often addressed the crowd in his native bilingualism, thanking the staff at Metropolis and calling the waiters the “bravest” due to their strolling through the crowd of dancers while toting their trays of beer.
At the end, Roberts thanked the crowd and shouted that they were the luckiest band in the whole world to have hometown fans like this. The fans returned the sentiment with whistles, shouts and applause that showed the love for a memorable evening.
The set list:
1. I Feel You
2. With a Bullet
3. Fixed to Ruin
4. Let It In
5. Lions of the Kalahari
6. Words and Fire
7. Love at the End of the World
8. The Resistance
9. No Sleep
10. Graveyard Shift
11. Where Have All the Good People Gone?
12. Partition Blues
13. Bridge to Nowhere
14. Detroit `67
15. The Last Crusade
16. Brother Down
17. Them Kids
18. Without a Map
19. Streets of Heaven (Promises, Promises)
20. Don’t Walk Away Eileen
21. Mind Flood