Sam Roberts Band / 54-40 / Matt Mays
Save On Foods Memorial Centre
June 12, 2010
By Chris Turner
Racing across Victoria’s skies Friday afternoon was the aerial acrobatics group "Snow Birds", practicing high flying formations in a dazzling display using nine CT-114 Tutor jets as their brushes to paint the sky in white smoke trails. Stunt jets thundering overhead Victoria wouldn’t be the loudest event for a celebration of the 100th International Naval Fleet Review that took place on June 12th. Amongst special events, a concert was being held in honor of the fifteen thousand plus men and women of twenty eight navies hailing from all over the Indo-Pacific.
Canada, Australia, France, Japan, and the USA were to name a few of the many flags part of the impressive Naval ship display. These countries, and more, were openly applauded as Cliff LeQuesne of the radio station "100.3 the Q!" kicked of the "Navy Rocks" concert at the Save-On Foods Memorial Centre in Victoria featuring the Sam Roberts Band with guests 54-40 and Matt Mays.
First up on the docket was Matt Mays currently touring with Adam Baldwin and Jay Smith (original members from the "Matt Mays & El Torpedo" days that ended last June 2009). New with the band are Damien Moynihan, Serge Samson and Dale Murray. Wearing a floppy wide brimmed brown hat, Mays face cloaked in his own hair, he strummed his large white guitar to life followed by his band mates. A good mellow opener with sporadic bursts of energy, Mays warmed us into the dark of the arena after a long day in the sun. With antics such as teetering upon a stage speaker to sing out loud to the crowd or throwing two fist fulls of maraca’s after letting his guitar rest at the end one one tune, Mays and his band were a sometimes scattered sound, but also a very enjoyable listening experience.
Next up to amaze a freshly reinvigorated crowd were true Canadian rock stars 54-40. Lead singer and fluid guitarist Neil Osborne, Matt Johnson (drummer), Brad Merritt (bass) and Dave Genn (guitar) were ready to share their decades of hits with arena spectators. These BC rockers, born in Tsawwassen, are celebrating 30 years as a band and 25 years since their first album "Set The Fire" was released.. A common utterance with 54-40 is "I didn’t know they had so many hits!", and it’s was apparent as they walked through songs like "I Go Blind" and "Nice to Love You". With exuberant singing through out the set, a "clap-happy" crowd was encouraged on several occasion’s to sing the chorus or chant the most recognized tunes. Leaving the crowd hyper and buzzed with melodies, 54-40 left stage to make room for the headliner of the concert, Sam Roberts Band.
With a flare for enthusiasm Sam Roberts burst out of the gate as the final act, wearing a Canadian Tuxedo (Denim Jacket and Jeans). Another big band from the Great White North, the Sam Roberts Band has gained momentum since "Brother Down" was released in 2000 by Sam Roberts as a solo album. Treating us to a lengthy set lasting 90 minutes, the band covered songs throughout their career including cuts from their latest "Love At The End Of The World," released in 2008. The audience couldn’t take the excitement leaping to their feet, dancing the night away. It was a great end to a spectacular evening. With tunes such as "Where Have all the Good People Gone", "Bridge to Nowhere", and a phenomenal sing along to "Brother Down" (with lighters and cellphones held high to surge along with the motion of the entire arena. Mid-rock-out, Roberts hailed the Naval forces for their great sacrifice for global security and gave a heartfelt thanks for their dedication to their careers in the Navy. He didn’t forget to rouse the crowd in an echoing applause for all the countries that traveled to be part of the Naval Review as well.
Matt Mays jumped on board and jammed with the band for an inspired version of "Uprising Down Under" which ignited the chain of cell phone screens and lighters. The band continued with "Fixed to Ruin" and "Detroit 67" with a sense of pride and glory. Local residents, visitors and the Naval forces and their families were rocked out of their flip flops tonight, ending an action packed event day with jets, an aircraft carrier, ships, sun, ballads and tunes. As LeQuesne said between 54-40 and Roberts, "Today it feels good to be Canadian!".