By Mike Dunn
CALGARY – The Grapes Of Wrath wore the glass slipper and went on at happy hour. Without Kevin Kane the Hooper brothers led as a trio playing a lot like the Jayhawks, chiming together with two-part brother vocals, although stripped down it was quite punk rock. “Good To See You” from 2014 was a standout with its Tin Pan Alley structure and early Beach Boy harmonies. As a three-piece the veteran Western Canadian band moulded themselves into a different, new feeling.
There’s something about The Wallflowers everyone should know and hear—they’re veteran players who’ve been there, done that, seen it all, and know how write and play songs that breath and feel lived in, like The Band once did and The Wallflowers revealed tonight. An extended intro of “Three Marlenas” got things started easily showing how they can pick up and move beyond the recorded version. With “6th Avenue Heartache” they stuck closer to the original script but still swaying, pushing up organ swells and throwing out great chorus lines. As they volleyed through their numbers, it was like seeing a young E Street Band, and cool to hear Jakob Dylan sing in a relaxed Lou Reed kinda way, plain-spoken with emphasis when needed. “One Headlight” was a huge release for the crowd, the band’s biggest hit dropped right near the end before “The Difference” closed out with its Al Kooper draw and Al Jackson Jr. push. Later that night, Dylan slipped onstage at The Ship & Anchor’s Annual Hank & Patsy show sitting in on a particularly show-stopping set backed by Calgary’s best rockabilly band, Peter & The Wolves.
The Goo Goo Dolls played to a full front row as the crowed streamed in and easily gained their attention with “Dizzy” from 1998’s Dizzying Up The Girl, before launching into the hooky acoustic rock of their huge hit from the same record “Slide”. The band was full of energy with frontman Johnny Rzeznick often slinging his guitar to his side while running across the stage, giving the crowd cues to pump it up and sing along. Bassist Robbie Takac a lit fuse all through the show, racing around and pogoing anywhere there was a square foot or two, his near constant smile a source of fuel for the sunbaked band at sundown. Their driving and catchy delivery had the crowd swaying happily. A focal point of the business model in the ‘90s was to get songs on movie soundtracks, and of all the huge ballads that defined films then, “Iris” was one of the best. It has all the high drama of a great power ballad, and the crowd loved it. My asterisk with The Goo Goo Dolls, though, is that they left “Long Way Down” off their set, the blistering lead cut from A Boy Named Goo.
Breezy summer stuff made up a lot of Train’s set. Leading with an East LA horn section and buoyed by female choir, their hits were interspersed throughout. “Meet Virginia” was preceded by a goddamn knockout of Zeppelin’s Black Dog where guitarist Luis Maldonado played the perfect riff hero foil to vocalist Patrick Monahan with his Michael Jackson high tenor wail. Autographing white hats on stage and chucking ‘em out like a t-shirt cannon might have pushed it a bit, but whatevah. The crowd came to see a big show and they devoured the easy-yet-tightly composed Californian beach rock. Whoa-sing-a-long choruses being the summery thing they are, Train let them flourish doing the classic one-liners extremely well. Starting their encore with “Free Fallin’” was a nice, unexpected turn and messing with Petty’s words just to say “Canada” a real crowd pleaser.Goo Goo Dolls, Grapes or Wrath, Roundup Music Festival, The Wallflowers, Train