MUSIC PREVIEW: Forever Rock
Classic rock is on its way to becoming the new classical music. Think about it: Life is a Highway will be remembered long after it’s been forgotten as “that cool Rascal Flatts song.” Melodies will become more famous than their composers. Quick: Who wrote Raise a Little Hell? Took you a second, didn’t it?
In the annals of classic rock, the question of “who’s in the band now?” is asked with less urgency these days. The answer is: It’s complicated. Classic rock bands containing just one original member still tour around the world, and do very well. Sometimes they hire new lead singers after their original one left or died. Sometimes they spawn two or more bands playing the same songs and bickering over the same name, and who wrote what. They have to call themselves “The Music of Insert Band Here.” Sometimes the sons or daughters or former roadies get involved. And they’re all doing 25th anniversary tours of their seminal albums. Don’t forget the many tribute bands that enjoy thriving careers playing music not their own, accepting applause for rock stars long since passed on.
Who wins? The fans, that’s who. They don’t really care as long as least someone on stage has a connection to the music – and can play those classic rock hits like they mean it. Like a good symphony orchestra playing the greatest hits of Vivaldi.
Which brings us to the Edmonton Rock Music Festival, in Hawrelak Park Friday and Saturday.
The guy who actually wrote Life is a Highway is back with his old band Red Rider to close Friday night. Think about it some more: If life is a highway, you’d think you’d want to ride it a bit longer than all night long. Maybe all the next day long, too. Or perhaps it’s a metaphor for living life in the moment. This song has a lot of legs, everyone’s covered it to death, and Tom Cochrane, no one hit wonder he, has a number of other Canadian rock classics in his arsenal.
Also Friday: Wasn’t the Five Man Electrical Band once called the Five Man Electric Band, or is memory fuzzy? It was the 1960s, after all. If you don’t remember it, you were there … or something. Yet emerging clear from this vintage Canadian band is a wonderful giant hit from 1971: Signs, as in “Sign, sign everywhere a sign, blockin’ out the scenery, breakin’ my mind. Do this, don’t do that, can’t you read the sign?” Whoa, acid flashback. Fight the Man, dig?
(Important note: For your comfort and safety, please obey the signs at the Edmonton Rock Music Festival.)
Saturday’s line-up is packed as full of Canadian classical rock goodness as it’s possible to pack: Trooper (which did Raise a Little Hell), Prism, Sass Jordan, Chilliwack, and more – all that’s missing is Streetheart. Frontman Kenny Shields died in July. May they carry on in some form at some point.
As for you kids sneering at classic rock – don’t try to hide it – your time will come. Mark my words. Mark them, I say! With your Eve 6 and Blink 182 tribute bands with only the son-daughter of one of the original members remaining, popular acts on the solar-powered cruise ship zeppelins of the future, your musical tastes, too, will one day enter the land of Classic Rock.
Life is a Highway will be performed in concert halls. But until then – live by Tom Cochrane at the Edmonton Classic Rockfest!
Tickets are $60 for Friday $70 for Saturday, $120 for both.
OneRepublic – Here’s a band that’s been all over pop radio for the last decade, their star launched by the power ballad Apologize, in which the protagonist tells an unnamed partner that it’s too late for the title of the song. Hey, the message still holds up. Will everybody stop apologizing for everything already?! Anyway, from Apologize, the radio hits flowed, and the Colorado band has hit the road to support its latest album, Oh My My. Opening the show will be Fitz & the Tantrums. Rogers Place, 7 pm, tickets from $29
K.d. lang – Verily a voice sent from heaven has been the trademark of this gifted and eccentric singer, who from humble beginnings in Edmonton’s Bohemian arts scene of the early 1980s established herself as the punk rock reincarnation of Patsy Cline – and all this before ascending to the throne of Adult Contemporary Valhalla. She’s now on the “Ingenue Redux” tour, marking the 25th anniversary of her international breakthrough album and the wonderful hit therein, Constant Craving. Chloe Albert will open the show at the Jubilee Auditorium, Saturday and Sunday. 7:30 pm both nights. Advance tickets from $79.
Beck – Yes, time is a piece of wax falling on a termite who’s choking on the splinters … and it’s sheer pottery from the mind of one of the most innovative and daring artists of the modern age. We’ve been waiting for this guy to come to Edmonton for a long time, ever since his self-loathing anthem Loser (originally a rejected demo) tweaked the earholes of a nation back in 1994. He’s done a lot of innovative, daring and sometimes confounding music since, including on his latest studio album Morning Phase, with new material coming soon. Jubilee Auditorium, 8 pm, SOLD OUT