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Barenaked Ladies "Flip" for new virtual concert

By Gary Graff
ggraff@medianewsgroup.com, @GraffonMusic on Twitte

Posted: Thursday, April 15, 2021

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In what's been a big news week for Barenaked Ladies, the Canadian quartet has saved perhaps the best for last.

Earlier the group announced its 16th studio album, "Detour de Force," and released its first single, "Flip." It also postponed its latest Last Summer on Earth tour with Gin Blossoms and Toad the Wet Sprocket to the summer of 2022.

And during the weekend BNL streams "Flip N' Hits," a streaming concert filmed at the Danforth Music Hall in the band's native Toronto (prior to Ontario's recent shutdown).

"I know we're giddy and excited, and I'm hoping the sheer giddiness of playing together will translate," drummer Tyler Stewart says by phone. He acknowledges, however, that "it's weird 'cause we're in a concert hall and there's nobody there. We're a band that thrives on an audience.

"But we always rise to those occasions. That's kind of the thing that keeps you energized, going for something new."

Subtitled "A Night of Monster James of Pandemic Proportions," the hour-long show -- on Saturday, April 17 with an encore on Sunday, April 18 -- will feature mostly greatest hits, along with a new song or two. BNL has stayed busy during the pandemic shutdown with a series of "Selfie Cam Jam" performances as well as a holiday special in December, but "Flip n' Hits" is designed to play more like a traditional concert.

"When we did the Christmas special it was more of a variety show kind of model, with skits and talking, and we stopped after each song," recalls multi-instrumentalist Kevin Hearn. "This livestream will be more spontaneous, and we'll just play a show. I love when we play a show; You can just get lost in the rhythm of it. I miss that feeling of the energy of the audience, but...it's going to be fun to feel that momentum again."

The Danforth Music Hall, meanwhile, is what Stewart calls "hallowed ground." The theater is the site of one of BNL's first large-scale headlining shows more than 30 years ago, and it's also where the group was signed to its first major label deal, with Sire Records.

"It's kind of a storied part of the history of the band," frontman Ed Robertson says, noting that the band had been scouted during another show, at Carlton University in Ottawa, before Sire founder Seymour Stein came to see the group at the Danforth.

"Seymour had sent Andy Paley to see the band at Carlton University, and he apparently called Seymour and said, 'Give them whatever they want!'" Robertson remembers. "So Seymour flew up, saw the band at a sold-out Danforth Music Hall, this unsigned local band selling out a 1,300-seat venue, and we got signed right away."

Robertson adds that former member Steven Page lived nearby the venue, which he immortalized in the BNL song "The Old Apartment." "There's a lot of history with the band at that venue, and in that neighborhood," Robertson says. "It feels really good to go back there to do this livestream."

Fans won't be seeing BNL on a live stage this summer, but they will be hearing new music. "Detour de Force," whose release date is TBA, was recorded over the course of a year or so with two different producers, first at Robertson's cottage in northern Ontario, pre-pandemic, and then in Toronto. Band members say the 14 tracks straddle the different environments, blending the cottage's organic approach with the "bells and whistles" of the city studio.

"It was quite a process," Stewart acknowledges, "but I'd like to humbly say -- or maybe not so humbly -- that's what Barenaked Ladies are like. We can play everywhere. I think our experience as a band, our 30 years of playing together really paid off in that we weathered some technical difficulties and some gear malfunctions and stuff like that, and then the pandemic, and ended up with some really special tracks. I think people who hear (the album) are going to recognize that."

Barenaked Ladies' "Flip n' Hits with BNL: A Night of Monster James of Pandemic Proportion" streams at 9 p.m. Saturday, April 17 and again at 3 p.m. Sunday, April 18. Tickets via sessionslive.com.

Barenaked Ladies' Last Summer On Earth North American Tour, with Gin Blossoms and Toad the Wet Sprocket, plays July 3, 2022 at the DTE Energy Music Theatre. Tickets on sale now via 313presents.com. Tickets for the two postponed dates (July 4, 2020 and July 4, 2021) will be honored or can be refunded through May 12 via the point of purchase.

Web Site: www.sessionslive.com

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