From the very beginning of the show frontman Jacob Hoggard had the crowd in his hands with the Vancouver-based band’s hit “Anything.” Rockers turned pop stars — the foursome still know how to entertain, after years in the trenches of the Canadian music sound-scape.
Hoggard is an extremely talented musician — underrated actually. He spent many songs in front of his pianos showing off his more sentimental side with the chart-toppers “For the Nights I Can’t Remember,” “Invincible” and “Perfect” and slapped on an acoustic guitar for a few numbers throughout the set. The band was tight and proved to the crowd pop songs are only one aspect of the musical tapestry that is Hedley.
Unfortunately, most teenage audiences can’t appreciate fully the art of making music and writing a great song. If a song’s got a beat and they can dance to it — it’s gold, not that there’s anything wrong with that, for the most part. Lyrically, Hedley has struck gold with most of their songs. When put under the microscope Hedley lyrics have substance. Hedley’s words speak of rising above obstacles, being an individual, heartfelt heartache and poking fun at societal norms. Hoggard was front and centre and for good reason. His powerful voice live was impressive and both his voice and his stage presence has found a sense of maturity. The band, especially Hoggard, doesn’t seem to take themselves too seriously, which is why it works.
As for the opening acts — Alyssa Reid, JRDN and Danny Fernandes — if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. Except JRDN did deliver a pretty decent live set. All three Canadian up-and-comers did seem a tad bit out of place at a rock show. Even though Hedley has stepped into the shallow end of the pop pool — the band is still considered a live rock and roll band, which can’t really be said about two of the three openers. Background tracks should not be used for most of a live performance, especially when vocal tracks are still playing while the supposed live performer isn’t moving his/her lips or is off shaking their booty instead of belting out the tunes. That may go over, without a doubt, with young impressionable teens but not everyone can be fooled into believing totally “live” is what is being sold. It’s almost insulting when today’s dance/pop performers think it’s OK to just call it in and just sing a few lines over an already dubbed backing track and think audience members won’t notice. We noticed.
Other than a shaky start to the evening with a questionable trio of openers — when Hedley took the stage — all was forgiven, sort of. Canadians should check out the band live, especially on this tour across Canada and abroad, it’s most definitely worth the “Trip” (which incidentally was the band’s final number before their encore). Hedley puts on one heck of a show with a great mix of songs for all ages. I think it would be beneficial to hear the band play at a more intimate venue such as a theatre — perhaps stripped down with an acoustic/piano vibe, as the band’s back catalog would be perfect in that type of setting.