Hedley delivers a cranked-up christening of Hard Rock Casino Vancouver

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      At the Hard Rock Casino Vancouver on Friday, December 20

      If the chrome door handles in the shapes of Fender Stratocasters weren't a dead giveaway, the Hard Rock Casino Vancouver—actually situated in nearby Coquitlam—is a loving tribute to all things rock 'n' roll. Inside, the familiar visages of Page and Plant, as well as Sirs Jagger and Townshend, observed you from massive silk banners.

      Hung on the walls were a hunka-hunka-hell of a lot of pieces of Elvis memorabilia, while classic tracks from Aerosmith and Kiss blasted through the PAs—in the case of the latter, one would hope all night.

      The plenty packed grand opening brought out all sorts of characters, from silverfoxes strutting around wearing leopard-print anything, to black T-shirt–wearing long-hairs doubling down at the blackjack tables, to die-hard slot-jockeys a bit too into the zone to realize they were sitting just inches away from Nikki Sixx's wicked Shout at the Devil–era bass guitar.

      A raven-haired server in a shimmering black-and-silver paisley dress and leather biker hat combo, meanwhile, served up carb-heavy appies that were quickly scarfed up by ravenous passersby.

      With some promise of debauchery just hanging in the ether, it seemed a little dubious, then, that local guys Hedley were brought in to christen the casino with its first proper concert event. While the band is currently riding a high off the recently released Wild Life, the glossy modern pop production and electronic flourishes currently associated with act aren't exactly inspiring anyone to raise a set of devil horns.

      Regardless, the screams came full force when the house lights went down and the Abbotsford-bred quartet came out swinging with "Anything", a posi-vibes-soaked whirlwind of big guitar chords, chirpy moog keyboard lines, and beats both mechanical and man-made by drummer Chris Crippin.

      A dapper suit-and-tie adorned Jacob Hoggard hopped around during the number, telling people in a nursery rhyme-styled cadence to follow their dreams, whether that means being "an Xbox tester or an astronaut in space."  Between those lines and a juvenile chorus of "na na nas", it's truly one of the stranger Canadian singles to hit the radio in quite some time. The sold-out crowd ate it up, though, especially one lime-haired fan up front who managed to get a quick pic of the singer and him together on his iPhone.

      During "One Life", which also mixed Dave Rosin's six-string riffs with screeching synths piped in via the overheads, Hoggard further worked the faithful by doing high jumps, a series of gracefully leggy pirouettes and lunging out towards fans to hold hands.

      Despite the showman's in-between song sweetness, thanking the hometown audience for coming to their last show of the year, Hoggard got a little raunchy during "Don't Talk to Strangers", pantomiming the dirty dangle of his phantom penis as he praised the yoga-toned ass of a "cougar on the prowl".

      There were high energy moments to be had, but the entrance of a mirror-plated piano mid-set brought forth an arsenal of mood-drooping ballads like "Perfect", "Invincible", and a brief bit of Rihanna's "Stay". After a brief exit, an encore of "Sweater Song" started off with a folky shuffle, but got juiced up with a cannon-loud kick drum and cranked amps by song's end.

      An acoustic guitar-toting Hoggard, meanwhile, channelled Elvis with some hip-wrigglin', a move apparently so swoonworthy that it yielded a bra toss. Soon enough, the heavily tattooed frontman was shirtless and cracking wise about being drunk enough to basically hook up with anybody.

      Somehow, the encore alone brought forth the sex, the drugs, and, sort of, the rock 'n' roll. It wasn't as dangerous as seeing a Bud-and-blood soaked performance at a dive bar, of course, but for the context of the night, Hedley managed to pull it off.

      Maybe, like the quartet had suggested in song an hour-and-a-half earlier, it can do anything.




      Dec 21, 2013 at 10:47am

      "the Hard Rock Casino Vancouver ... is a loving tribute to all things rock 'n' roll."

      Really? So what happened to Red Robinson, the godfather of rock-and-roll in the Vancouver area? We needed to replace him with a few pictures of Page and Plant and some useless guitars?


      karma Karl

      Dec 21, 2013 at 7:43pm

      yeah, it can do anything but sell records outside of Canada. Jacob should dump those old farts, including his crap manager, so he might actually have a shot in the U.S. before he is 35.

      Red Robinson?

      Dec 22, 2013 at 4:26pm

      I don't think Red Robinson and Rock 'n' Roll belong in the same sentence.

      His style seemed so terribly safe and non-edgy, which rock normally is not.

      Didn't he claim that there was a riot at the first Beatles concert in Vancouver? If true, I'd submit that he was passe even by that time.


      Dec 22, 2013 at 8:42pm

      You are an idiot. the beatles played in Vancouver in 1963. at that time, they were considered very rock and roll and very anti establishment. You are judging 1963 by 2013 standards. Truth is, Red Robinson is a lot more rock and roll than Hedley is or ever will be.


      Dec 22, 2013 at 9:55pm

      You managed to address none of my points, well done.

      The Beatles grew into their overt anti-establishment style, but it wasn't musically evident from "She Loves You" or "I Want to Hold Your Hand".

      And thousands of girls screaming (which wasn't unique to Vancouver's show) isn't a riot now, nor was it a riot in 1963. Unless it's not true he called it a riot, but you utterly failed to address the point, so I'm not sure.

      And if you like your "rock" sanitized, then sure, Red Robinson is "rock 'n' roll", but he wouldn't be gritty if he ate a plate of sand. And good rock music is gritty.

      Now, your proctologist wants me to remind you that you have an appointment for your teeth to be cleaned on January 3rd at 14:30.

      Good day to you.


      Dec 23, 2013 at 12:03am

      i have to agree with Lawrence here. I think it is you who misses the point, anonymous jack ass. You think the Beatles were considered parent friendly from the beginning? or the kind of reaction that the beatles received at their shows was tame? Lawrence's point i think is that you are judging that by modern day standards. If you judge by current standards, they are corporate clowns, nothing edgey or even slightly challenging about them. Red Robinson, on the other hand, was bringing bands to town that were challenging the mores of their time. Anyway, i am sure you have some Kraft mac n' cheese waiting for you in your shitty basement apt, so i wont take up any more of your time.

      Howard blank

      Dec 23, 2013 at 6:21am

      I still think buttless chaps are a solid fashion statement.


      Dec 26, 2013 at 11:53am

      @Lawrence...are you 14 years old?
      Get your facts straight.
      The Beatles played Vancouver in 1964 not 1963.
      And as for Red Robinson not being rock n roll..
      He's in the Rock and Roll hall of fame for God sake

      Martin Dunphy

      Dec 26, 2013 at 2:31pm


      So are Louis Armstrong and Herb Alpert.


      Dec 27, 2013 at 12:46am

      Rykka. lol.