I always thought I was a Cuddy man. That pristine, emotive voice and those gratifying pop hooks make his songs so satisfying to vibe to. But over time, I have gravitated towards the raw and honest darkness that emerges in Greg Keelor’s devastatingly catchy and well crafted jams. But really, it is like trying to choose between Salvatore’s and Metro Pizza. Both have their unique virtues. Both rule pretty hard in their own right. No matter which one you choose, you’re going to have an amazing pizza experience. That's how I feel about Blue Rodeo (that makes sense, right? I get a little disoriented when I make pizza analogies. I wish I had some pizza).
Blue Rodeo’s January 31 show at the Metro (Pizza) Centre was like the perfect pizza experience; equal parts Cuddy and Keelor, with a nice introduction to the new record and a great selection of hits and deep cuts from their near 30 year career. They broke things up into two sets—with the first featuring only songs from their new record, In Our Nature. But these songs could have easily been plucked from Five Days in July; they show that Blue Rodeo are still crafting great songs and are a force to be reckoned with. The second set was a near perfect (was wishing to hear "Rose Coloured Glasses," for one thing) selection of songs from the Blue Rodeo back catalogue. Cuddy’s crooning, after all these years, still has the effect of a musical security blanket, keeping you safe and warm. And even though Greg Keelor’s role in the band has changed due to his hearing issues (he no longer plays electric guitar—this duty is filled by new member Colin Cripps—and appears to be purposefully isolated on the stage from the drums, bass and other loud elements of the band), his voice still punches you right in the emotions. After that performance, I can’t think of a Canadian band less unfuckwithable than Blue Rodeo.
-From the pink haired, tattooed, canoodling couple in their early 20s sitting next to me to the smelly bearded guy with the Crass back patch on his studded jean vest at the next urinal, the punks were in full force. It proves that punks can have both emotional depth and good taste necessary to jam to Blue Rodeo.
-Greg Keelor, you don’t need to pander to the audience. Don’t have them sing almost half of "It Hasn’t Hit Me Yet." I came to hear you sing it. You sing it the best. Also, you don’t need to make lame references to getting high in order to get a cheer from the crowd. You and I both know the best way to experience the beautiful desolation of this world is with your eyes open and your mind clear. Don’t lower yourself anywhere near the bullshit cultural milieu that getting high is cool. One doesn’t need to mitigate their experience of reality with drugs; they only need to listen to Outskirts front to back.
-My childhood friend referred to Blue Rodeo as “Canada’s House Band.” Is this a thing people say?
-Watching Jim Cuddy hang back and watch Devin Cuddy sing the second verse of “Lost Together” made me very emotional.