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Sam Roberts
Sam Roberts - Le Spectrum, Montreal

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Date: Tuesday September 16, 2003

Sam Roberts returned home to play at the same venue where he used to watch his favourite bands play - Le Spectrum in Montreal. The hometown boy is getting his well-deserved recognition now and headlined a sold out show (first time for Montreal).

The place was packed early for the opening band - Guster - who are a big college favourite from the US (in fact Sam Roberts Band opened for them during their US dates - they toured together for 14 shows in Canada and the US). Guster was an obvious crowd favourite with a number of fans singing along, especially to the catchy tune "Amsterdam" from their fourth CD. Most impressive was the drummer Brian who has an extensive drum set and plays with his bare hands (which he often has to tape and crazy glue to keep together - if fact they get submersed in ice for 15 minutes after each show to cool down!).

Sam Roberts Band came on stage to a ready audience with a new backdrop announcing the "Higher Learning Tour 03 04". The night opened with an organ solo leading into Rarefied. With a number of new intros and outros to their recorded numbers, the following was the night's set list:

Taj Mahal
Don't Walk Away Eileen
Hard Road
Canadian Dream
Where have all the Good People Gone?
No Sleep
Dean End
Climb Over Me
Brother Down
On the Run
This Wreck of a Life
Higher Learning
Hot Metal (unrecorded)

An impressively long set (over 1.5 hours) for a band with only one CD out (We Were Born In A Flame, 2003). Highlights were Paranoia (extended musical psychedelia), No Sleep (a rare one for the band to perform, but a crowd favourite with the French parts) and This Wreck of a Life (started with an acoustic version, then Sam's two brothers joined him on stage. Although the bouncer tried to drag the first brother off stage before he was told who they were, Sam was laughing while singing through this). The encore ended with a long version of Hot Metal - seemed like the crowd chanted "Let's Rock and Roll" a hundred times!

While Sam was apparently nervous before the show (living his childhood dream and all), he obviously bleeds rock and roll on stage. He has tons of energy, knows how to read and connect with the crowd, and sounds great live. He can also handle the adoring women who jump on stage with pleasure and crowd surf while still playing his guitar, to drive the crowd crazy. All the touring has really improved the band - James Hall (bass), Dave Nugent aka Nuge (lead guitar), Eric Fares (keyboards, guitar), Corey Zadorozny a.k.a. Cuddy Dawson (drums) and Sam Roberts (lead vocals, guitar) were tighter than ever. Add that to the more professional production and lighting, new merchandising shtick, and new tour manager (apparently previously with Simple Plan) and you have a band "coming of age". The party did not stop after the concert, those fans "in the know" headed to Le Pistol (owned by Sam's Brother Dan) for some fun and beer (if you could fight the crowd!). The packed bar included the Sam Roberts Band, management, media, Guster, some of The Dears, friends, family and fans.

Obviously a special night for Sam - blasting his hometown and starting off a new Canada-US tour. He came on stage with a big smile that never left his face for the entire night.

Alison Kerry Email WWW


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