Hedley proves it has chops galore, if not edge, at Rogers Arena

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      At Rogers Arena on Saturday, March 24

      In the interest of journalistic honesty (and at the risk of courting the scorn of the band's fans), I'm going to admit that, before Saturday, I couldn't have told you the name of a single Hedley song. The group is so far off my radar that my sole frame of reference is the memory of watching frontman Jacob Hoggard butcher David Bowie's "Space Oddity" in a semi-scandalous jumpsuit on Season 2 of Canadian Idol.

      So it was a bit like culture shock to be watching him, eight years later, play to an arena. Not a full one, mind you—the nosebleeds were empty—but still, that's pretty impressive for an act that operates almost entirely outside of the collective consciousness of people who actually care about music.

      Okay, that's not really fair. Hedley's fans care about Hedley, at the very least. And I’ve probably pissed them off already. Let me head off the inevitable flood of indignant comments by addressing the most obvious one first. Yes, you’re absolutely right: the Straight should have sent someone who was already an avowed Hedley fan to cover the show. Because, obviously, the best way to get an unbiased critique of something is to send someone who is strongly biased in its favour.

      But enough about my ignorance. One thing I do know is how to find song titles on the Interwebs. Hence, I can report that Hedley started the homecoming concert on its Shipwrecked tour in rock mode, blasting through the oldies “321”, “On My Own”, “Street Fight”, and “She’s So Sorry” in rapid succession. It wasn’t long, though, before the prodigiously tattooed Hoggard sat down at a baby grand piano that had suddenly appeared at centre stage. This clearly meant that it was power-ballad time. “Heaven's Gonna Wait”, from Hedley’s most recent album, Storms, was exactly that: big, emotional, and heartstring-tugging but ultimately forgettable. It did, however, showcase the fact that Hoggard most certainly has the vocal chops to pull such a thing off.

      He proved that beyond doubt during the inevitable unplugged interlude, for which the guys were seated in a rowboat and dressed in yellow rain jackets and sou’westers (it was a running theme). "All You Get Is Sound" and “Beautiful" are pretty, if unsubstantial songs, but they gave Hoggard a chance to show off his confident crooning. By the time the band bailed out of its skiff and resumed their places for "Sweater Song", it started to feel like a Jason Mraz concert or something. Just when I thought Hedley had abandoned rocking for good, the song exploded into a fiery Dave Rosin guitar solo.

      And then it was back to the piano, and…quite frankly I started to lose track. But there was still an hour left to go, an hour that included Hoggard mugging with a T-shirt cannon a drum solo by Chris Crippin, and an on-stage dance party.

      The band (which also includes bassist Tommy Mac, lest I fail to mention him) is more than competent—in fact, they're all excellent, accomplished players. Hoggard, in particular, has, in addition to that voice, both the boundless energy and the seemingly effortless charm of a born star. But Hedley’s material has no edge whatsoever. Even their earlier, heavier stuff is pop-punk-by-numbers. That makes it perfect fodder for the 14-year-old girls who sing along to every word, and fair enough.

      Come to think of it, maybe the Straight should send one of those callow teens to review the next Hedley concert. At least she would know all the song titles without having to Google them.




      Mar 25, 2012 at 12:36pm

      Well, you'd think at least the Straight would send a "critic" who aware of the performers they were to cover. You discredited the review right off the top. Sheesh, GS, that's setting a pretty low standard for cultural coverage.

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      Carl Spackler

      Mar 25, 2012 at 8:10pm

      So send a douchebag to review a douchebag? Is that what you mean DHS? Was Mack not free on Saturday John? Do you guys ask for bonuses do have to sit thru this shit? Jesus! Hedley? Fuck. Wow. I'm sorry you have to do this. Oh the humanity.

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      Adonia Renshaw

      Mar 25, 2012 at 8:31pm

      You may not be biased but you are prejudice, coming in with the mind set of disliking them and not dropping it. Coming from a fan, you know one of the "14 year old girls" who doesn't care about music, I think they are phenomenal. I am 18 years old and music is my life. And maybe if you had taken a look around you may have noticed that a good portion of the crowd was above fourteen. HEDLEY is passionate and talented and are a fantastic band to go and see. One of the best concerts I have ever been to. I know music I have listened to it all from the classic rock of Pink Floyd to the musical styling of Eminem. So yes you pissed off the fans, and in realizing you were going to do so maybe you could have toned down your dislike for them. The Straight could have sent a critic who a least has an opened mind. You say we don't like appreciate music, well I think it's you who doesn't.

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      Mike Lundy

      Mar 26, 2012 at 8:07am

      Like Mr. Lucas, I too attended a recent Hedley concert without any background of the band so I too had no idea what to expect. It wasn't really my thing either but as John mentioned the band appeared experienced, the stage show was interesting, and the actual fans were enjoying the performance. As well I can't recall any melodies - with music these first impressions are important. Like, if you were to walk into a SRV concert for the first time, how would that review differ! I believe Mr. Lucas told us like it was.

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      Peter parker

      Mar 26, 2012 at 8:41am

      meh, I was dragged there and this is a fair review.

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      Nunya Biznis

      Mar 27, 2012 at 8:45am

      There was a real show on the weekend too. The Belushis dropping their third album. I miss the days when the Straight could be relied on for something other than the lowest common denominator.

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      Bill Jones

      Apr 1, 2012 at 8:09pm

      Hedley proves himself during his <a href="http://uneasyconcerts.blogspot.com">live</a> performance at the Rogers Arena last March 24. Many of his fans were getting the best of him at the event.

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      suck it

      Apr 21, 2012 at 9:40am

      the Hedley concert was 100% meant for the Teenie Boppers. I really wish the Producers would allow the backing band to play and record some music that is true to their roots. All of the Musicians that back up Jaccob are amazing talented guys. Congrats to them for finally making a great living though couldn't have happened to anyone nicer.

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      Aug 6, 2012 at 8:16am

      Yikes this is a really bad review. Who wrote this and why isn't he in school studying journalism?