Before the technicians finished setting the stage on Friday night, a chant broke out for Sam Roberts, though there wasn’t even a hint that the band was ready to emerge yet.
When the Sam Roberts Band did take the stage, they launched with a dreamy starter to build up excitement, with neat crisscrossing light fixtures in the background casting an ephemeral glow. After this first song, the Sam Roberts Band maintained a set list of upbeat and rhythm-heavy rock that kept the crowd shimmying.
The band’s sound gave me a heavy impression of unpretentious working-man rock and roll.
There wasn’t much process or distortion evident in most of the songs, and the subtle saxophone and keys parts blended with the multiple guitars in a way that felt somehow homegrown – sort of like Bruce Springsteen’s sound, but without the overbearing Americana.
Opener Adam Baldwin suffered from hollow-sounding electric guitars and issues with the bass drum microphone cutting out, although it took a while to notice either.
The energetic classic rock leanings of the band were complimented by a folky twinge of Bible-belt organs and raspy vocals. Even though Adam Baldwin’s set was a relatively quick 40 minutes, the large crowd was very receptive to the Dartmouth natives’ easily digestible tunes.
The Sam Roberts Band was careful not to pigeonhole themselves during their performance. Their material spans seven albums and 15+ years, which provided plenty of opportunity to highlight their growth over time.
Dance-rock tune Shapeshifters was riff-heavy and treated to a choreographed light display that reflected the band’s tight cohesiveness. I Feel You followed after, flowing into more gritty and fuzzy industrial rock.
The crowd-favourites were present as well: Where Have All The Good People Gone?, Bridge To Nowhere, and Them Kids were very well received by the appreciative audience, and the band seemed to feed off their energy.
The members became more rambunctious and animated as the applause grew, and I noticed that the antics felt more like thankful responses rather than ego-fuelled boasting.
Sam Roberts gave a passionate speech about appreciating the connection Halifax audiences brought to his show, which resulted in even more cheers.
Each climax of the show saw just as many beer cups raised as phones, making the entire experience feel even more like an authentic rock and roll revival.
The encore popped-up a few crowd-surfers to cap off the jubilant evening