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Concert Reviews:
Steven Page introduces his solo self in Royal Oak
 

By GARY GRAFF
of the Oakland Press

» See more SOUND CHECK

ROYAL OAK -- Barenaked Ladies fans are undoubtably bemoaning the 2009 schism that set co-founder Steven Page out on his own. But on Friday night (Nov. 5) at the Royal Oak Music Theatre, they certainly couldn't complain about the results of that split.

A buoyant and typically boyish Page introduced his solo band and new songs from his latest album "Page One," to this longtime BNL stronghold with an 18-song, hour-and-45-minute show that had the exuberance of reinvention and the energy of a fresh work in progress. Page is still the same clever craftsman he was in BNL, but as "captain of this band of merry sailors," as he sang in the opening "A New Shore," he's working with different tools and some new approaches, presenting a kind of cabaret pop that crackled with ambition and a hunger to prove himself again.

The concert certainly made believers of anyone who's been leery of the solo Page or of "Page One;" from the new wavey rock of "Indecision," "If You Love Me" and "She's Trying to Save Me" to more measured fare such as "Marry Me," "All the Young Monogamists" and "The Chorus Girl," everything fit nicely next to BNL staples such as "Jane," "Enid," "It's All Been Done," "Call and Answer" and "Brian Wilson." And the Royal Oak crowd was just as thrilled to hear rarities from the group's canon such as "Tonight is the Night I Fell Asleep at the Wheel" and "Break Your Heart."

And though there were moments when it was still clearly getting comfortable with some of the material, Page's facile five-piece band -- whose multi-instrumental skills allowed for two-piece horn and string sections when needed -- brought deep sonic dimension to the songs throughout the night, a different spin on the same sense of flexible musicianship that made, and still makes, BNL such a compelling live act. Page himself was affable as ever, talking about bringing Zingerman's food back from Ann Arbor and declaring the theater's reserved seating set-up "too churchy," which led to fans piling up directly in front of the stage.

It may not have drawn quite as well as a BNL show, but it was a solid introduction to what Page has to offer on his own. Breakups can sometimes weaken both parties; in this case it seems to have doubled the good news for the group's fans.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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