The Last Summer on Earth got a reprieve from Armageddon as the tour of the same name headed by Barenaked Ladies and supported by Gin Blossoms and Toad the Wet Sprocket showed the war on Covid finally over, at least for those in Bend, OR on Wednesday at Hayden Homes Amphitheater.
A prophetic tour name if there ever was one, Last Summer on Earth Tour was postponed in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic, postponed again in 2021 but finally got the green light for 2022, though many bands did return to live performances during the last half of last year. Apparently, Barenaked Ladies get credit for the apropos name as they began the Last Summer on Earth Tour in 2012 to coincide with the end of the Mayan calendar.
Little did they know.
Though hardly a sell-out, the “amphitheater” in Bend which doubles as a park when not hosting concerts holds a lot of people. In the past, general admission usually served as the rule of thumb for concert goers who packed themselves in without assigned seating. Someone, somewhere finally figured out a better way and turned the park into a bona fide live music venue with seats for those wishing to pay more (like me) while general admission in the lawn remains in the rear or go ahead and pay nothing by floating on the nearby ice-cold Deschutes river.
Toad the Wet Sprocket – Last Summer on Earth Tour
Toad the Wet Sprocket suffered the most from the early low attendance taking the stage promptly at 6 p.m. for their 45-minute set in broad daylight. Unfazed by the sections of empty seats, even if plenty of people preferred to relax on the lawn, Toad the Wet Sprocket sounded sharp and still got many up and dancing to hit songs “Good Intentions,” “All I Want” and “Walk on the Ocean.” Just one – “Transient Whales” – from their new album Starting Now which they toured last year in much smaller venues. Could have done without the Brinsley Schwarz cover but it somehow worked.
Toad the Wet Sprocket Last Summer on Earth Setlist:
- Come Down
- Good Intentions
- California Wasted
- Transient Whales
- Crazy Life
- All I Want
- (What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding
- Something’s Always Wrong
- Fall Down
- Walk on the Ocean
Gin Blossoms – Last Summer on Earth Tour
Wasting little time, Gin Blossoms hit the stage with their 45-minute set about 15 minutes after Toad finished to quite a bit more fans who trickled in. Just nine songs, five coming from their smash album New Miserable Experience which turns 30 this year (the band played the album in its entirety during a tour a few months ago just as they did for the 25th anniversary but canceled a bunch of dates after bassist Bill Leen broke his arm), leaving those of us (like me) who came because they were on the ticket, longing for more. A fully healed Leen shows no ill effects from his injury and singer Robin Wilson hasn’t lost his tone or texture in keeping Gin Blossoms’ songs sounding just like the band that made it big in the 90s.
They too endured a “daytime” performance in the open air setting losing some of the ambiance that adds to a show when performed at night or indoors with stage lighting and other effects. Nothing off Mixed Reality, now four years old (say what!?) but an awesome pick in “Long Time Gone” off Major Lodge Victory. “Allison Road,” “Found Out About You” and “Hey Jealousy” continue to hold up decades later.
Gin Blossoms Last Summer on Earth Setlist:
- Follow You Down
- Long Time Gone
- Allison Road
- As Long As It Matters
- Hold Me Down
- Until I Fall Away
- Found Out About You
- Hey Jealousy
- Til I Hear It From You
Barenaked Ladies – Last Summer on Earth Tour
As for the Barenaked Ladies? They clearly have way too much joy when playing. A near hour and 45-minute set as the headliners, Barenaked Ladies commanded a much larger crowd, owned a bigger stage presence and produced a whole bunch of drunk women. I’m not sure what was more entertaining: the band playing, singer Ed Robertson’s banter, bassist Jim Creeggan slinking or sliding along stage while sometimes engaging in amusing postures, the many middle-aged drunks or security constantly trying to get the many middle-aged drunks back to their seats.
Barenaked Ladies also have a new album, but considering the time warp the pandemic created, not so new anymore as Detour de Force was released nearly a year ago. They played quite a few off Detour de Force including “New Disaster” which opened the evening, the catchy “Good Life,” a most enjoyable “Big Back Yard” and the touching “Live Well,” a song Robertson wrote about his rocky relationship with his dad which brought forth a tear upon its introduction.
Barenaked Ladies delivered the hits, of course “One Week,” “It’s All Been Done” and the “Big Bang” theme, but with 17 studio albums to their name they brought some deep dives, too, in “Gonna Walk” off 2013’s Grinning Streak and “If I Had a $1000000” from their 1992 debut Gordon. They killed on a fun little rap (who knew fun and rap went together?) which centered around living in Bend and guitarist Kevin Hearns’ newly purchased Sasquatch socks. Bought in Bend, naturally.
All four members of the band boast capable vocal range. Obviously Robertson the lead singer, but Hearns takes the mic on a couple including parts on “One Week,” Creeggan sings “Here Together” which he also wrote for the new album, and drummer Tyler Stewart, swapping spots with Robertson, enjoyed the limelight helping close the main set with a medley of covers including a pretty good version of “Tom Sawyer” from the original Toronto-based band, but wow did he nail it on Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love.” Was he really singing? Who would have thought a guy I’d hire as a bodyguard could belt out Robert Plant like vocals?
If this is the last summer on earth, then at the very least Barenaked Ladies, Gin Blossoms and Toad the Wet Sprocket allows us to go down with the ship with a smile on our face.