Barenaked Ladies’ musical ingenuity lies in its creative, inane lyrics. Let the band free to improv on stage and its members’ fast-moving lips and quick-thinking minds move to an entirely new echelon.
During its concert Friday at American University’s Bender Arena, the most entertaining part of the show surprisingly was not the tunes but the brief interludes when the band tangently improvised. These bits were somewhat planned – face it, no band can smoothly move from one cover song to another – but the quips and jokes clearly originated at that moment on stage.
In one amazing sequence, Barenaked Ladies played blips of well-know songs, sliding from “Memory” from “Cats” to “Gettin’ Jiggy With It” to “Bittersweet Symphony” to “You Say You’re Just a Friend.”
At one point, one band member appeared center-stage with a cello. The flashing purple, chartreuse and magenta lights changed to one still, deep blue light to create a stoic atmosphere. With the scene set, he slowly began to play the cello. His first selection was a spooky rendition of “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” that eased into a grooving “Hava Nagila.”
Characteristic of the evening, Barenaked Ladies had a “meet the security guard” portion of the night. After being introduced to the audience, the security guard strummed the guitar as a band member played the chords of John Cougar Mellencamp’s “Jack and Diane.” The audience cheered and applauded uncontrollably.
Of course, there was unbelievable music. Barenaked Ladies immediately dazzled the crowd with its opening song, “It’s All Been Done.” From there, the band mainly played songs from its latest album, Stunt, and its 1996 release, Rock Spectacle.
With each song, the crowd moved to the beat and sang along. The crowd alone was quite entertaining. The fans’ ages ranged from pre-pubescent teens to college students to people ready for their mid-life crisis. Couples also dotted the crowd. Many of the love doves decided the concert was the appropriate place to blatantly make out. Fortunately, the exhilarating music compensated for the odd crowd.
After jamming for an hour and forty-five minutes, Barenaked Ladies left the stage. With the crowd loudly chanting “B-N-L,” they returned to the stage for an encore. The intensity level remained the same throughout the entire show to the final chord of “Brian Wilson,” providing the audience with scintillating musical – and comical – entertainment.