RBCBluesFest25 Reviews 2019

RBCBluesFest25 Review July 2019

By Abbey Wolf

RBCBluesFest25 “Bluesville” July 14, 2019. Photo Abbey Wolf

The Ottawa BluesFest celebrated its 25th consecutive year and what a bash it was! It featured local upcoming talent like Moscow Apartment and musical greats such as, Buddy Guy and The Killers, Alt-J and Kygo, Snoop Dog and loads of others.

This festival is considered by the locals to be a favorite because it’s so eclectic, with genres for all ages and tastes.

The venue had three stages and even a carnival area, which added a fun family atmosphere. They encourage local merchants to promote their products and services.

It was well organized and the crowd traffic was super managed. There was always space to navigate and walk freely. There were convenient water bottle filling stations and cool innovative relaxing spaces. Charge stations and phone lockers were provided by one of the festival’s main sponsors, Videotron. These were extremely appreciated by all the enthusiastic fans reporting to their social media. 

There were Exclusive VIP lounges with scaffold towers and the staff was helpful, pleasant.

Happy anniversary RBCBluesFest! We look forward to celebrating many more anniversaries to come!

RBCBluesFest25 The Killers–City Stage–July 7, 2019

By Abbey Wolf

RBCBluesFest25 The Killers, July 7, 2019. Photo: Abbey Wolf

Frank Sinatra’s  “Luck be a Lady”, was the intro song playing in the background for the Killers’ entrance onto the stage tonight. It eventually merged into their opening song “The Way It Was”.

The band’s frontman Brandon Flowers (looking gorgeous and suave) was wearing one of his signature satin suits. 

The show was so eventful with a “ spectacular” laser light show and pink exploding confetti. 

The Killers always take “ audience participation” to a new level at their shows each time they pull a fan from the audience to play with them. Tonight, we had the pleasure to see “Tony” the fan who played drums with them at the Glasgow music fest in 2018. Flowers spotted Tony standing in the front row and said “ Hey I know you”, then he summoned Tony onto the stage and the fan took over the drum set and played “ For Reasons Unknown with the band. He played incredibly well. If the Killers ever need a new drummer, they will know whom to call. 

RBCBluesFest25 July 7, 2019 The Killers Tony "the fan". Photo: Rob Loud
The grounds at the City Stage venue was packed shoulder to shoulder with fans but there was still room enough to dance, and when they played “Mr. Brightside” as the final song of their encore, it seemed like everyone including the staff, danced and sang to that song until the end. They indeed “ killed it” tonight, under the stars and a beautiful crescent moon, leaving us with a special souvenir. The band will move on to play at Caesars Windsor Casino in Ontario on July 9th, then they are off to play two more shows in the US and ending their tour at Woodstock’s 50th anniversary.  
RBCBluesFest25 July 7, 2019 The Killers frontman Brandon Flowers. Photo: Rob Loud

Band members:
Brandon Flowers
Dave Keuning
Mark Stoermer
Ronnie Vannucci Jr.

Set list:
Jenny Was a Friend of Mine

Somebody Told Me


The Way It Was

Shot at the Night

RBCBluesFest25 The Psychedelic Furs-City Stage-July 7, 2019

By Abbey Wolf

RBCBluesFest25 The Psychedelic Furs July 7, 2019 Photo: Abbey Wolf

The Psychedelic Furs took the stage promptly at 8pm for what was to be a short but sweet set, full of nostalgic blasts from the past. They started out their set with one of their first hits “Heaven”. They performed flawlessly; not surprising as the two brothers have been playing music together since the early 70s. Richard (vocals) and Tim (bass) officially established The Psychedelic Furs in 78’ but it wasn’t until the mid 80’s when they hit mainstream and gained world wide recognition for their iconic tune “ Pretty in Pink’ featured in film with the same name. Speaking of “pink” guitarist Rich Good was playing with a pink Fender guitar. The charming thing about his guitar was a patch on the front, worn down to the original sunburst wood stain.

RBCBluesFest25 The Psychedelic Furs Richard Butler July 7, 2019 Photo: Greg Kotz

The band played all their hit singles, namely “ The Ghost in you”, “Love my Way
”, and “Pretty in Pink”. Richard Butler was in top shape, covering the stage from side to side and dancing to every song. His vocals were pristine, sounding the same as they did from the band’s recordings in the 80s. Butler was genuinely humbled, jumping up and down when the crowd would cheer. Each song they did was done in perfection and sounded timeless.

One of the highlights was when they played “President Gas
”, and at the end of the song, Butler said, “you know whom I am talking about.”

The furs will continue their tour throughout the US, finishing in Seattle on July 30th

Band members:
Richard Butler-Vocals
Tim Butler – Bass
Paul Garisto – Drums
Rich Good – Guitar
Mars Williams – Saxophone
Amanda Kramer – synthesizer/keyboards

Set List:
The Ghost in You
Like a Stranger
Sister Europe
Love My Way
President Gas
Pretty in Pink

RBC Bluesfest25 – The Offspring- City Stage – July 12, 2019

By Abbey Wolf

RBC Bluesfest25 The Offspring July 12, 2019. Photo Abbey Wolf

I’ve been a fan of The Offspring since their breakthrough album, Smash, in 1994. When I think back, it doesn’t seem that long ago that I first saw them play at The Palace in LA, but in fact, it has been over 20 years! I managed to catch them at the Heavy Fest in 2014 for their 20th anniversary tour and they were just as I remembered them the first time I saw them. The Offspring is one of those bands that is consistent with their iconic sound. They are also true to their genre, punk rock, in which they are considered to be legendary.

Last night at RBC Bluesfest25, we saw that the boys in the band have all gracefully aged but have not appeared to slow down in the least. Honestly, they didn’t sound any different from when I first saw them over 20 years ago.

They kicked off the set with Americana, instantly elevating the crowd. Frontman Holland was wearing black (as usual) and still has a full head of bleached blond hair. His energetic and charismatic presence on stage kept the fans pumped. The energy level and enthusiasm from the fans were already epic and the show had only just begun. Noodles (AKA Kevin John Wasserman), lead guitarist for the band, was very chatty with his fans, frequently sharing his thoughts. 

“It’s been too fucking long since we played in Ottawa.” He said, (The crowd was cheering and laughing.)  And “You are all so sexy! I’m smitten”!

He confessed that ACDC is one of his favourite bands, poking fun by asking us if  we “ know who they are?” Perfect intro for their homage to ACDC and they played Whole Lotta Rosie.

Noodles was in a great mood and genuinely having fun, as he continued to butter up his fans, saying “hey, they call you Ottawa but I think it should be called OH fuck YAH OTTAWA! Canada fucking rules!” It’s no surprise that  crowd surfing was intense throughout the show (peacefully and with no casualties).

Although we haven’t been given a date yet, keep a lookout for Offspring’s new album to be released soon before the end of the year.

RBC Bluesfest25 Crowd surfing @ The Offspring July 12, 2019. Photo Abbey Wolf

Band Members:

Dexter Holland
Greg K.
Noodles (AKA Kevin John Wasserman)
Pete Parada

Set list:
All I Want
Come Out and Play
It Won’t Get Better
Want You Bad
Staring at the Sun
Whole Lotta Rosie (ACDC Cover)
Bad Habit
Gone Away
Why Don’t You Get a Job?
(Can’t Get My) Head Around You
Pretty Fly (For a White Guy)
The Kids Aren’t Alright
You’re Gonna Go Far, Kid
Self Esteem

RBCBluesFest25 Alexisonfire–City Stage–July 12, 2019

By Abbey Wolf

RBCBluesFest25 July 12, 2019 Alexisonfire Photo: Sean Sisk

Hailed as one of Canada’s top indie bands of all time, Alexisonfire continues to have success 20 years after the band’s debut in 2001. Their fan base is steadily growing; appealing to all generations because the music they create is significant and current. They have won accolades, namely a Juno in 2005 and they adorn walls with platinum albums. Although the band took a break in 2012, they reformed in 2015 and have since stayed together, touring the festival circuits and dishing out some tasty shows to their fans. Just an FYI, none of the members in the band is named “Alex”. The band was named after a stripper, who used “Alexis” as her stage name.

At their show last night, everyone in the crowd appeared to be hard-core fans as they pushed in herds towards the front of the stage. When the band entered, lead vocalist Pettie jetted onto the stage ripping his shirt off his chest, and the band broke into their hit song, “Accidents”. Pettit is infamous for his wit and humour, saying, “Are you enjoying the soulful music of Alexisonfire?”

Drummer Jordan Hastings was sporting an “ Alice in Chains” T-shirt, which was no doubt his way of paying tribute to them.

The sound was loud and clean without any distortion or bad feedback. The energy was high and people were jumping up and down, raising their arms into the air. When they sang “This Could Be Anywhere in the World”, I anticipated seeing people jettison themselves off the stage and into the crowd. But that kind of thing is in the past. One thing that is still very current is the “crowd surfing” action. It was peaking under water sprays (symbolizing beer back in the day) from a giant hose into the crowd. It was so touching and fantastic when a group of fans raised their friend (in a wheelchair) above the crowd. Pettie instantly signaled them to “crowd surf” him over to the stage and he joined them, wearing an Alexisonfire T-shirt, you knew this kid was a huge fan. He was in awe the whole time he was up there.

It’s so impressive how perfect they sound and how beautifully preserved Pettie’s voice is, despite all these years of “scream-singing”. His clean screams were beautifully in contrast with Green’s gloriously sweet and powerful vocals. This band makes you want to sigh… And then slam dance until you drop from exhaustion! They masterfully bring melody and mayhem together as though they were identical twins.

Alexisonfire is true to their genre and in several aspects, not just the sound.

Their music is political, often embedding important messages. They are not just angry, but rather, compassionate and spirited.

Pettit’s final words for the night were expressed as a pertinent message when he said, “this is a safe place regardless of your race your sexual orientation, the colour of your skin. But, if you are homophobic, or racist, this is not a safe place for you so fuck off forever!” The crowd roared with approval cheering and whistling.

Dallas Green
Wade MacNeil
George Pettit
Chris Steele
Jordan Hastings

Set List:
Pulmonary Archery
Drunks, Lovers, Sinners and Saints
Boiled Frogs
Side Walk When She Walk
Rough Hands
Familiar Drugs
We Are the End
We Are the Sound
The Northern
Dog’s Blood
Old Crows
This Could Be Anywhere in the World
Young Cardinals
Happiness by the Kilowatt

RBCBluesFest25 America–Videotron Stage – July 14, 2019

By Abbey Wolf

RBC Bluesfest25 America July 14, 2019. Photo Abbey Wolf

America is a pioneer folk-rock band that emerged in the early ’70s, obtaining international success and fame. They formed (initially a trio now a duo) fresh out of high school in 1969. This hippie duo had composed legendary hits such as “Need me”, Sister golden hair surprise”, and the famed “Horse with no name”. Many of their songs are still played on rock stations all over the world because they are some of the most treasured classics of all time. 

The Videotron stage at the festival was perfect for America’s sound. The stage was nestled in a park behind the War Museum. A grassy hill faced the stage and luscious green trees bordered the water on the other side of the park. The acoustics were exquisite and sweetly enveloped a modest and mellow crowd. 

America nailed all those incredible harmonies they are famous for. Whether they were singing one of their tunes, or when they covered “California dreaming” by the Mamas and the Papas. 

They didn’t disappoint their fans tonight because they put out a great show with passion and pleasure. It was enlightening and fresh when Bunnell shared some background about their history and beginnings. He has a great sense of humor and wit, saying, “we were seventeen sitting on stools…opening for bands like The Who…Then when we went on, and the crowd went mild”! 

Bunnell took a moment to recognize Sir George Martin, (renowned producer), and how grateful they were for his influence. Then, they paid tribute to Martin by covering the Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby”.

They took us down a nostalgic bittersweet trip, with background projections of the civil movement and the Vietnam War, as they sang “Sandman”.

From being inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame and being honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, to regularly touring and recording, the band continues to make their mark in history.

Beckley and Bunnell are still fabulously active, and will continue their 50th-anniversary tour into the US for “as long as you will keep coming to see us”, said Bunnell.

Gerry Beckley –vocals, keyboards, guitars, bass, harmonica
Dewey Bunnell – vocals, guitars, percussion
Richard Campbell – bass, vocals
Ryland Steen – drums

Set list:
Tin Man
You Can Do Magic
Don’t Cross the River
Daisy Jane
I Need You Here
Ventura Highway
Eleanor Rigby (The Beatles cover)
The Border
Woman Tonight
Only in Your Heart
California Dreamin (The Mamas & the Papas cover)
Lonely People
Sister Golden Hair
A Horse With No Name