I discovered The Trews in 2005 when they opened for Robert Plant on his Mighty Rearranger tour. I didn’t know them, and didn’t have the chance to check them out beforehand, but I always try to catch the opening acts. Even though I’m bored 90% of the time, it’s that 1 in 10, or 1 in 20 that blows you away that makes it worthwhile. The minute The Trews had hit the stage, it was clear that their energy, musicianship and songwriting put them in that rare category. I truly believed they were on the verge of hitting the big time. But every time they come around town, they’re always playing tiny places, with a few hundred people in attendance. I’d say that last night at the Belmont there were about 150 people, but the crowd definitely made up for its size with enthusiasm.
Openers were Red Wanting Blue from Columbus, Ohio. Very much in the style of The Trews, their high energy performance offered rock songs that, while not ground breaking, had everyone tapping their feet and nodding their head. Judging from the people who went up to them after the show, I hope they made a few new fans last night. They deserve it. Very fun band, very good musicians. You can check them out at http://www.redwantingblue.com
After a short break, The Trews hit the stage. This is an acoustic tour, and I was worried that the sit down configuration would affect their trademark live energy (even though I love their live acoustic album). I shouldn’t have worried. They still sang and played their hearts out, with no compromise. First set was heavily slanted towards newer material, with a few older classics mixed in. Highlights were the brand new Power of Positive Drinking, Sing Your Heart Out ( with appropriate crowd participation), Paranoid Freak (dedicated to custom agents!) and Poor Old Broken Hearted Me. The band then announced a 15 minute break, and invited the crowd to tweet in their requests for an all request second set. That takes guts, confidence and a high level of musicianship! All throughout the set, the chosen tweets were put on screen and the band played them. Most of the requests were for high profile tracks, but it’s not every band who could do that, especially since they were playing acoustically, so not in the original arrangements. And judging from the setlists from other shows, they don’t shy away from playing deep tracks when requested.
They pulled off great performances out of every request, and seemed to thrive with the challenge. To me that set was all highlights, but some of the more shining moments were Colin MacDonald singing his ass off on Making Sunshine, the great funky arrangement to Hollis and Morris and Ishmael & Maggie, probably the best song ever to reference Moby Dick (the book, not the Led Zeppelin track). I like this track in its studio version, but live, it always reaches a higher level for me. Anytime I hear it in concert, I fall I love with it even more, but feel disappointed in the following days when I have to listen to the studio version again, at least until the memory of the show fades away a little. In a way, this is true of much of their catalog; as great as they are on record, it’s on stage that they reach a level I’ve rarely seen from bands. There is magic that happens sometimes when all the members of a band fall in sync with their instruments, and with themselves and the crowd. but with The Trews, it seems to happen at every concert…
They came back for a one song encore (the Belmont transforms into a dance club at 11PM…), ending the show with Tired of Waiting.
I love this band, but I’m disappointed that their popularity doesn’t seem to grow. They’re touring constantly (it was fitting that the music between sets was James Brown, aka the hardest working man in showbusiness. I’d call The Trews the hardest working band) and Montreal’s rock radio station, CHOM, plays them often, but their popularity level seems stuck. I hope they catch their big break, and that next time they can play to a much bigger crowd, even if it means I can’t watch time from right up front. They’re probably my favourite new artist of the millenium.
Note: I did not shoot this video. Go to Youtube to see its author.
- Hope and Ruin
- Power of Positive Drinking
- So She’s Leaving
- Lord, Keep Me in Mind
- I Can’t Stop Laughing
- Sing Your Heart Out
- Paranoid Freak
- Poor Ol’ Broken Hearted Me
- I Can’t Say
- Fleeting Trust
- Makin’ Sunshine
- Hollis & Morris
- Highway of Heroes
- Got Myself to Blame
- Ishmael and Maggie
- Not Ready to Go
- Hold Me in Your Arms
- Tired of Waiting
If you want to discover these bands, here is some of their music:
Red Wanting Blue
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He's also a regular contributor at the very rad site Montreal Rampage
Latest posts by Jean-Frederic Vachon (see all)
- Album review: Justin Saladino Band – A Fool’s Heart - May 17, 2018
- Concert review: Steven Wilson – Olympia, Montreal – April 21st 2018 - April 24, 2018
- Concert review: Sons of Apollo – Corona Theatre, Montreal – April 19th 2018 - April 21, 2018