October 13, 1995

MEDIA

Blue Rodeo - Good Reason to Vote No
by John Griffin - Southam Newspapers

MEDIA

The first wail of a harmonica to open a song is as sure a sign of a band's popularity as anything sold in a record store.

Early in Blue Rodeo's set at Metropolis last night Jim Cuddy stood comfortably before the mike stand, adjusted his harp holder and blew something into the club's iffy PA system.

Instantly a roar went up from 1,800 young freaks, older fans, casual supporters and suits in disguise for the night.

Bad Timing was the song - a ballad from a couple of albums ago - and the night was in full Canuck Dead mode. People in this country know the Rodeos chromatically as well as chronologically.

Six albums into a career that has established the Toronto-based country-rock band as the best thing to happen to unification since Neil Young abdicated for the fault zones of California, Blue Rodeo can call their own shots through harmonica, massed guitars, pedal steel, keyboards, or none of the above.

If their new LP, Nowhere to Here, is the most meditative yet from a band born to please, they mixed it into the set list during the first hour of a show that threatened to go on for as long as people listened, hugged, danced the hippie wavy-arm dance, and ordered cool ones from the bar.

Till I Am Myself Again opened in demonstrative fashion, Head Over Heels confirmed the levitational capabilities of sweet harmonies over a solid melody, and Day After Day only reaffirmed the things that make us different from the United States.

In any reasonable world - like ours - the song is an anthem of possibility.

That the band is only marginally as popular in the States as they should be says much for the good taste, innocence, forbearance and intimate knowledge of what constitutes fun in this land.

"Quebec, don't leave us," said one of the band's front guys (Cuddy or frontier-style guitarist Greg Keelor) before the show started.

If losing the open-hearted, adventurous and open-ended pleasures of so Ontario - and so universal - a rock band is what lies down the pike, the vote is already in.

Anything to keep us from the cynical clutches of America. The Montreal Gazette