Sunday, May 15, 2011
MUSIC REVIEW OF THE DAY: THE TREWS - HOPE & RUIN
I've seen The Trews a few times now, and the Nova Scotians have something pretty rare: real honest-to-goodness rock star presence up there on stage. Nobody works a venue harder these days, especially the jam-packed, college-aged ones they usually play. I've asked my teenagers who they would like to see in concert, and it isn't U2, it's these guys. They come out guns blazing, and win over the crowd within a couple of songs, letting everybody know that it's an event they are at, not just a gig. Singer Colin MacDonald works hard every moment, and the band plays every song like it's the final encore.
Much of that is possible because the band has also figured out how to craft anthems for the albums. The ballads are big ones, the rockers rock harder. Think this is easy? There isn't many hit rock bands out there these days. Most of the time, the big rock music you hear is from the past, classic hits we either grew up with, or kids have been fed on Gold radio formats and Guitar Hero. You wanna be a hit band in Canada, you're fighting for space with Led Zep and Pink Floyd, at least to get at my kid's ears.
So listen hard to a song like The World, I Know from Hope & Ruin, and those perfectly place Wo-oh-oh's. That's you how make a rock record people are going to sing along with at the shows. That's the kind of number that leaps out of the dashboard when you're driving. The album's full of ready-made party rockers, cut from the same cloth as their already-loved hits Poor Old Broken-Hearted Me, Not Ready To Go, etc. There's probably two or three of them that will join the greatest hits playlist they keep building. But there's also a new subtlety with some of the writing, and particularly with the first single, the title cut. It starts small, builds, and has that feeling of momentum, of something exciting and big being unveiled. It is a song that makes you feel better just by its arrangement. The band and producer Gord Sinclair (from Tragically Hip) are tapping into the emotions good rock music can stir. You can also find it in the decision to end the disc on an acoustic cut, You Gotta Let Me In, a number full of fireside-singalong warmth.
The band is heading out on a set of big venue dates alongside Kid Rock, playing Saddledomes and Centres with names such as Labatt, Air Canada and Rogers. I'm betting they do just as well getting the crowds worked up in those caverns as they do at Nicky Zee's bar down the street.
The Trews with Kid Rock
Tuesday, May 17 - Rogers Arena - Vancouver
Wednesday, May 18 - Prospera Place - Kelowna
Friday, May 20 - Scotiabank Saddledome - Calgary
Saturday, May 21 - Rexall Place - Edmonton
Monday, May 23 - Brandt Centre - Regina
Tuesday, May 24 - MTS Centre - Winnipeg
Friday, May 27 - Air Canada Centre - Toronto
Saturday, May 28 - John Labatt Centre - London
Tuesday, May 31 - Scotiabank Place - Ottawa