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Concert Reviews:
Barenaked Ladies turn DTE into Pine Knob for a night

for Journal Register Newspapers

Posted: Sunday, August 12, 2012

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INDEPENDENCE TOWNSHIP -- If this really is the Last Summer on Earth, as the Mayans predict and Barenaked Ladies named its current tour, the Canadian quartet gave its fans at the DTE Energy Music Theatre on Saturday night, Aug. 11, something to remember it by.

Er, make that Pine Knob -- at least for that particular night.

Rekindling its warm relationship with the Detroit metro area with its first public show in these parts since 2010, the Canadian quartet let it be known early during its 75-minute set that it has little use for the amphitheater's current moniker. The group's Ed Robertson explaining that DTE stands for "Don't Try Ever to change the name of this place from Pine Knob," and then cranked through a specially written song saying just that. All in good fun, of course.

And fun remained the hallmark of BNL's appeal, as the group's blend of clever and often off-the-cuff showmanship with carefully crafted pop songs was as solidly displayed Saturday as it's ever been -- at Pine Knob and/or DTE and other area venues. Headlining a package that also included Blues Traveler, Big Head Todd & the Monsters and Cracker, BNL covered a lot of ground in a relatively short amount of time, opening with the theatrical "Four Seconds" -- the only song it performed from its 2010 album "All in Good Time" -- and coursing through a generous array of hits, including "The Old Apartment," "It's All Been Done," "Too Little Too Late," "Brian Wilson," "Pinch Me" and "One Week," as well as its theme song from TV's "Big Bang Theory."

BNL also dug deep for an acoustic rendition of "Blame It on Me" from its 1992 debut album "Gordon," and it unveiled a brand new song, the rootsy "Boomerang," that hasn't yet been recorded.

There were some particularly special musical moments amidst the one-liners and comic repartee -- which included Robertson's graphic description of the effects of the sushi he ate that afternoon at Great Lakes Crossing. An unplugged version of "For You" featured solos by "Big Head" Todd Mohr on dobro and Cracker's Johnny Hickman on acoustic guitar, while Blue Traveler's John Popper played harmonica throughout "If I Had $1000000." The group's choreographed "Barenaked Rap" -- this time incorporating Alphaville's "Forever Young," Taio Cruz's "Dynamite," Flo Rida's "Good Feeling," Carly Rae Jespen's "Call Me Maybe," Nicki Minaj's "Starships" and Gotye's "Somebody That I Used to Know" -- was a gem, and Hickman helped take it up a notch at the end by playing guitar on Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'."

Robertson took over on drums and Tyler Stewart sang lead on the encore rendition of "Alcohol," upping the comic component another notch. But, per usual, the laughs never came at the expense of the music, and all in attendance certainly concurred it was good to have BNL back, no matter what it wanted to call the place it was playing.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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