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Live Review: Barenaked Ladies – 28th March 2022 – Royal Albert Hall, London, UK

3 min read

The third time’s a charm for Canadian folk rock band Barenaked Ladies, who had their latest UK tour rescheduled twice due to the pandemic. But the stars finally aligned in 2022 and the band booked 10 dates in cities throughout the UK including Glasgow, Portsmouth, Manchester, Bath, Leeds, Birmingham, and London. The tour wasn’t entirely smooth sailing, though, and after several members of the band caught covid, they did what they do well- improvised- and performed several dates minus those members, including a few dates with Ed Robertson and Tyler Stewart performing as a duo. Luckily, the other two members of the band (Kevin Hearn and Jim Creeggan) were back in form and all four took the stage at the Royal Albert Hall in London on 28 March.

Known for their eclectic mix of folk, pop and rock, along with a healthy dose of humor, the band achieved cult-like status in their home country Canada before rising to more widespread acclaim with the release of their studio album Stunt in 1998, and the smash hit it produced, One Week. Since then, they have sold millions of records and scored more hits including It’s All Been Done and Pinch Me. They became even more well know in the 2010’s after creating the them song for the highly successfully sitcom The Big Bang Theory.

Having seen them in concert before, I was familiar with the bands trademark light-hearted, comedic performance style, humorous chat, and even improvised songs or raps. Not sure who was still sick with covid, I was excited to see all four band members take the stage just after 9pm.

Opening with New Disaster, a song from their 2021 album Detour de Force, there were no fancy props or stage décor, just the band and their (many) instruments in their usual roles with Kevin typically playing piano/keyboards, Ed on vocals and guitar, Tyler at drums, and Jim on bass. This would change though, as they worked through their repertoire of well known hits as well as songs from the new album, band members would frequently change roles and instruments, or take turns on lead vocals. It’s obvious from the very beginning that these guys get along really well together and love playing live gigs. Their musicality and creative talent is obvious, and they are just fun to watch. Funny too, with Ed at one point making a joke thanking Ed Sheeran for opening for them (he had actually done a show 24 hours prior at Royal Albert Hall) and Tyler doing an exuberant solo during the song Flip…on the triangle.

As the set carried on, the crowd got more and more into it especially with favorites like Lookin’ Up, One Week, If I had $1,000,000 and Brian Wilson, for which they brough out KT Tunstall who was one of the opening acts along with Boothby Graffoe). In between the songs there was funny banter, and even an improvised rap about being at Royal Albert Hall and a brief sample of Chim Chim Cher-ee from Mary Poppins. Towards the end of the set Ed swapped places with Tyler on drums, and Tyler went full on rock star singing covers of DEVO’s Whip it and Led Zeppelin’s Whole Lotta Love while running and jumping around the stage to enthusiastic applause from the crowd. They capped off the amazing show with an encore of Light Up my Room, and Tonight Is the Night I Fell Asleep at the Wheel, and I’m sure that like me, everyone left a little happier than when they came.

Setlist:
New Disaster
Odds Are
The Old Apartment
Royal Albert Hall Rap
Gonna Walk
Here Together
Good Life
It’s All Been Done
I Can Sing
Blame It On Me
The Township of King
Live Well
Brian Wilson (with KT Tunstall)
Big Back Yard
Lookin’ Up
Pinch Me
Happy Days Theme / Hawaii 5-0 Theme
Big Bang Theory Theme
One Week
If I Had $1000000
Chim Chim Cher-ee
Barenaked Rap
Drawing
Whip It (DEVO cover) (with Boothby Graffoe)
Whole Lotta Love (Led Zeppelin cover)

Encore:
Light Up My Room
Tonight Is the Night I Fell Asleep at the Wheel