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Our Lady Peace

(8 Apr 2012: Subterranean — Chicago)

If veteran Canadian rockers Our Lady Peace were looking to throw devoted fans a Curve ball as the name of their newest and eighth studio release (out April 17 via eOne Music) suggests, they stepped up to the plate with a surprisingly intimate and overall celebratory Easter Sunday show in Chicago.

With a cramped venue that was far more diminutive than the clubs OLP could fill, a never-before-seen (and female) keyboardist, Robin Hatch, to round-out the touring lineup, and a setlist that offered the band’s first new tunes in three years, the spectacle was enough to spin any reveler’s bonnet. And take off their hats they did, the barely 300 people in the audience turning the night into one extended sing-a-long, squirming their way through the stock of sweaty folk to get closer to the stage, and frowning melancholic when the short 75-minute show was over.

“The right people got the tickets tonight,” singer Raine Maida declared before taking a few jabs at the Rubik’s Cube that ticket obtaining has become in this online era. If there was anything Maida seemed to be feeling, and channeling, it was nostalgia for yesteryear—even if his scruffiness made him look more like a modern-day King of Leon than the Clumsy clean-shaven kid who morphed into “Superman” with the overnight success of OLP’s premiere single in the late ‘90s.

That single still remains the highlight of Our Lady Peace’s live show. Although the track is turning fifteen years old, it was just as innocently vibrant and baby soft on this night as it once on when it reigned king of the top alterna stations. Same for “Clumsy”, “One Man Army”, and “4 a.m.”, all of which were delivered as if they were embalmed and preserved for this very moment.

Yet this was no tribute show. Unlike the other post-grunge bands (who shall remain nameless) that will embark on “please still pay attention to us” tours this summer, Our Lady Peace has been burning the last decade’s oil with consistent deliveries of neatly wrapped music packages that let you know they’ve always really cared.

New singles “As Fast as You Can” and “Heavyweight” played after a solid log of classics, were just as unflinching and showed the undulating vigor and creative strength of a band who so easily snakes to the front of the line of each changing music scene. Sure, Our Lady Peace has come a long way from Clumsy to risking the latest Curve, but songs like “Heavyweight” prove they’re still contenders in today’s evolving industry. Just don’t expect them to be sitting in the corner waiting to defend their title as one of rock’s most revered bands. They’re center stage and ready, just as they’ve always been.

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