Billy Talent’s debut self titled album, Billy Talent, turns 10 years old this year, and the band made birthday party dates with Canadians across the country including two stops at Vancouver’s Commodore Ballroom, where they performed Billy Talent in it’s entirety along with a few other well known hits.
The place was packed – sold out – and chants of ‘BIlly, Billy’ started well before the lights dimmed down. By the time the band jumped on stage (and I do mean jumped), the crowd’s expectations were over the top. Third song in had the fans singing the chorus of ‘try honesty, try honesty‘ much to the delight of frontman Ben Kowalewicz who ramped it up a notch.
A few songs later, Kowalewicz introduced Lies with, “this one was true 10 years ago, and unfortunately is still true. Prime Minister Harper, this is for you!” amid many cheers from the crowd. The band’s energy was infectious, and the more they gave, the more the fans gave back, not only singing but jumping up and down on demand from gentle urging from Kowalewicz and bassist Johnny Gallant who wore a smile all night.
Drummer Aaron Solowoniuk took a brief respite as Kowalewicz spoke to the audience about the band’s debut album, and about how it was recorded in Vancouver (cheers and whistles). Kowalewicz went on to tell us that the band’s second album was also recorded here, just down the road from the venue (amid louder cheers) and, actually the band’s latest album was also partially recorded in Vancouver! “In fact,” Kowalewicz went on to say,”this next song was written one day while walking a few blocks from here, and getting wet.” The song of course, Standing in the Rain.
Many more songs followed, along with loud singing and much body surfing by some of the more exuberant male fans in the middle of the pack – Kowalewicz would simply grin and move as security hauled them over the barricade and escorted them off to the side, back into the crowd. At one point, someone tossed a pink bra on stage! Guitarist Ian D’Sa broke into laughter when Kowalewicz admonished bassist Gallant for tossing it back! “We’re a rock band, you don’t toss those things back,” he told Gallant into his mic. “Toss it back up here,” he told the fan, who obliged, and the audience went crazy as he launched into the next song wearing the bra first on his chest then on his head!
The cheers turned to boos in the next song -somehow The Leafs (Toronto Maple Leafs hockey team) came up and the boos started, gently at first.. Kowalewicz played it up, mentioning our beloved Canucks and how we were ‘going down’ this season.. more boos, louder this time.. more smack down talk and next thing, was a full on 1000+ people chant of ‘Go Canucks Go’.. it was magical!
The band took a brief off stage in the dark moment- followed of course by an encore with Fallen Leaves (Leafs?) bringing the house down yet again, and ending with Red Flag. Guitar picks, drumsticks and smiles were tossed out to the crowd as the band departed the stage, completely drenched in sweat and obviously as happy as us.
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