Okee dokee folks… The other night, July 8, I checked out a new, to me, venue, The Bank of NH Pavilion, and attended The Last Summer on Earth Tour with Barenaked Ladies, Five For Fighting, and Del Amitri. This very cool, outdoor concert amphitheater is located close to Lake Winnipesaukee and Laconia Airport. This area is very familiar to me as I went to Motorcycle Week in Laconia for over 20 years and one night I even slept on the wing of an airplane at that airport, but those are stories for another day! I have experienced BNL in concert a few times but had yet to hear DelAmitri and Five For Fighting live and was excited to do so.
From everyone I talked to it seems that The Bank of NH Pavillion is a highly regarded and a favorite venue. All the bands also reinforced this from the stage as they mentioned it many times throughout the evening. The employees all wear IDs that have their very first concert emblazoned on the badge. They ranged from Kenny Rogers, Poison, to Elton John and many more. The staff at this facility were some of the kindest I have ever dealt with and the patrons were friendly, too! The courtyard area was filled with a potpourri of bars, vendors, souvenir stands, and business booths. The “Hazy Little Stage” had a pre-show music performance and there was a little pond alongside the courtyard where you could take a little boat ride. It seemed like a very fun place for a show.
The concert began with a performance from Scottish band, DelAmitri. Now I have to admit this band was largely the impetus for my attendance at this show. Unfortunately I was in the minority. Maybe (only) a third of the arena was occupied during their show. It was a huge loss to those who did not catch it. Many ticket holders were still tailgating in the parking lot. DelAmitri rocked through their 10-song set that included their most well known hits, “Roll To Me”, “Kiss This Thing Goodbye”, and “The Last To Know”. They delivered a very energetic and enjoyable set. Justin Currie is the heart and soul of this band and he proved it with his performance. If you are a DelAmitri fan then this was just a tease that left you wanting more. If you didn’t know the band (though they have been around since 1980) or their music hopefully they attracted a few new fans.
Next up was Five For Fighting. John Ondrasik took the stage in his NH motto “Live Free Or Die” T-shirt and his band rocked right into “American Town” from the FFF 2000 release of the same name. Ondrasik started the song on guitar but finished on piano. “Chances” from the Slice album and “Riddle” from Two Lights followed. Ondrasik made an announcement that he wanted to be the first one to disclose that he is NOT running for president. He also spoke about the awesome amenities of the Bank NH Pavilion. “Easy Tonight” from American town and “NYC Weather Report” from The Battle For Everything were next. Ondrasik then talked about his Ukraine tribute song “Can One Man Save the World” and recounted how it was recorded with a Ukrainian Orchestra. The band played the song accompanied by video that he shot on a mobile phone while in Ukraine. Some members of the audience gave this one a standing ovation. Rounding out the self-penned songs were his biggest hits, “Superman” and “100 Years”. Closing out the performance Ondrasik wanted folks to warm up their voices for The Barenaked Ladies who were up next. He got everyone to stand, ran through actual vocal exercises, and then the band went right into Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” to which the audience happily sang along to and oftentimes were louder than the music. Ondrasik reaffirmed that he wasn’t running for president and then thanked the crowd. The nine-song set left the audience on their feet obviously hoping for more from Five For Fighting but ready for Barenaked Ladies.
The headliners for The Last Summer on Earth show, Barenaked Ladies, came on to a visibly filled arena. It was clear who people had come to see. The quartet went right into recognizable material: “Matter of Time”, “It’s All Been Done” and “The Old Apartment”. Frontman, Ed Robertson joined in heaping accolades upon the Bank NH Pavilion, “This is our favorite venue!” He then went into a rap song about the venue perks and it morphed into a rap band introduction. He mentioned that he was feeling a bit under the weather and that he had seen a doctor who told him to rest. But in response to that he exclaimed, “There will be no resting tonight!” Ed was doing a lot of talking. He moaned about the meal that they will eat at the next venue, the next night, won’t even come close to what they had that evening. He concluded his announcements and said, “If you don’t sing along with us security will come along and escort you out!” With this the band went into “Gonna Walk”. This time bass player Jim Creegan took to the microphone and told how he “crammed an entire summer into one day here!” He then sang lead on a new song, a bluesy number called “Just Wait”. Ed exclaimed, “For a guy who just plays four strings, he can sure make a complicated arrangement for a song!” During the next number, “Lookin Up” one of the BNL crew danced across the stage wearing a multicolored sombrero. The band changed things up and consolidated to the front of the stage with different instruments: bongos-Tyler Stewart, accordion-Kevin Hearn, upright bass-Jim, and acoustic guitar-Ed. They kicked off that segment of the set with a song from their first record, “Hello City” followed by a cut from the 80s that was originally released on cassette, “Blame It On Me”. The quirky songs, great harmonies and catchy melodies continued throughout the 20 or so song set. Other BNL tunes such as “Pinch Me”, “Brian Wilson”, “Big Bang Theory Theme”, “One Week” and “If I Had $1,000,000” surely made the fans happy. The night closed with a mashup of songs that included “If You Could Read My Mind”, “As It Was”, “Flowers”, “Take On Me”, “Climb Ev’ry Mountain, “So Long, Farewell”, “Rock of Ages”, an “Jet Airliner”.
Barenaked shows are always fun and it’s obvious why the band has such a devoted fan base and has been going strong for over 35 years! You are always guaranteed a good time. I surely enjoyed myself.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Bank NH Pavilion it is located in Gilford, NH. It is about a 3-hour drive from Rhode Island but well worth the trip if there is a show you would like to see. The venue is fun and welcoming. The area around the arena is loaded with sight-seeing, water activities and other fun outdoor activities. A weekend to NH that includes a concert at Bank NH Pavilion could be a fun-filled getaway.
Follow my column and podcasts for more events as they are added over the summer. Stay cool – I hate summer! That’s it for now. Don’t forget you can listen to my podcasts at: motifri.com/rootsreportpodcast. You can also find my concert photographs (including this show-DelAmitri, Five For Fighting and Barenaked Ladies) at motifri.com/fuzeksfotos. Thanks for reading and listening. johnfuzek.com