When you meet Sam Roberts in person he is the antithesis of a rock star; soft spoken, polite, attentive – when he speaks to you, you are quite literally the only person in the room. But there is an intensity there too just below the surface, and it comes boiling up and out the second that Sam steps out onto stage with his band.
I’ve heard nothing but positive things about Sam Roberts Band live and the show I attended the other night at the Salmon Arm Roots and Blues Fest proved that everything I’ve heard is an understatement!
Ten minutes before show time, festival security was suddenly beefed up and you could feel the anticipation mounting. Five minutes before show time, the fans were pacing in one spot on the soft turf but still respecting the boundary line between audience and security fencing and personnel. One minute before show time and eager fans were pressed up against the fencing, with the security personnel on the opposite side. There was no element of danger to it though; it was all in good fun … and then bang! the show started.
The band came out literally in the dark, to open the show with “Love At The End of The World” amid cheers of the fans spanning nearly an entire length of a football field. The lights came up as the band jumped into “Resistance” and then straight into “Where Have All the Good People Gone”. The energy this band puts out is outstanding – it was nearly impossible to capture Sam in action – he doesn’t stand still for even a second! The other members of the band, Dave Nugent on guitar and backing vocals, James Hall on bass, Eric Fares on keyboards, guitar and backing vocals, and Josh Trager on drums, have just as much energy, and only the drummer is pinned in one place unable to utilize the entire stage; all other band members eat it up, roaming the entire width and depth of the platform they’re playing from.
Other songs this night included “Detroit 67″ which received intense response from the crowd, “Fixed To Ruin” (dare you not to dance to this one), “This is How I Live”, “Hard Road”, “Up Sister” perennial favorite “Bridge to Nowhere”, “Uprising Down Under”, “With a Bullet”, “Brother Down” (the crowd by this time was body surfing and tossing beach balls onto stage), and “Them Kids” which ended the set list and had the audience at a fever pitch and chanting for Sam Roberts Band to come back out on stage for more.
The band teased us a little, waiting to come back out. But any good concert-goer knows that it’s not over ’till the House lights are turned on, so we waited and our patience was paid off with a three song encore; “On the Run”, “Don’t Walk Away Eileen” and a very long extended incredible rendition of “Mind Flood”. As the band wound down their last song, I watched the audience – nobody wanted this incredible concert to end – Sam Roberts and his band give every ounce of themselves; their energy, their voices and passion to ensure people not only enjoy the experience but become part of it. And the audience leaves feeling just as dog tired and spent as the band does… the intensity on both sides of that stage fencing never let up for an instant.
If you get a chance to see Sam Roberts Band live – go. You’ll be missing a concert of a lifetime if you don’t.
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