Both humor and hooks, as always, infused Barenaked Ladies' headlining set at the Sands Event Center in Bethlehem, Pa., Friday (Aug. 17). The group capped a night of adult alternative rock following fellow vets Cracker, Big Head Todd & the Monsters and Blues Traveler as part of Barenaked Ladies' Mayan calendar-mocking "Last Summer on Earth" tour.
Following the 2009 departure of founding member Steven Page, the four-piece Barenaked Ladies - co-founder Ed Robertson, Jim Creeggan, Kevin Hearn and Tyler Stewart - retain the band's spirit of good-natured goofiness (also intact on their 2010 10th studio album, "All in Good Time"), mixing their 17-song set (give or take, considering the night's many sojourns into snippets of such '80s hits as Depeche Mode's "People Are People" and Alphaville's "Forever Young") with Jimmy Stewart imitations (the band saw Alfred Hitchcock's "Vertigo" the night before, it explained), while dubbing Bethlehem the "birthplace of Jesus and rock & roll."
Highlights of the quartet's high-energy set included favorites "The Old Apartment," "It's All Been Done," "Brian Wilson," "Pinch Me," its 1998 Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 "One Week" and "If I Had $1,000,000," the latter song featuring Blues Traveler frontman John Popper on harmonica. "Does anyone here have a smartphone?" Robertson asked the crowd. "There isn't an app for that," he said, marveling at Popper's prowess on his trademark instrument.
After making karaoke look easy with a medley of Taio Cruz's "Dynamite," Flo Rida's "Good Feeling," fellow Canadian artist Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe," Nicki Minaj's "Starships," Gotye's "Somebody That I Used to Know" and Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'," Barenaked Ladies wrapped - with Robertson taking over on drums and Stewart out in front on vocals - with its ode to "Alcohol," fulfilling Robertson's earlier promise of delivering a "cavalcade of monster hits" along with well-worn album cuts from the act's 24-year archives.
Blues Traveler, celebrating more than a quarter-century mixing melodic blues and rock, led a sing-along of its No. 8-peaking 1996 Hot 100 hit "Run-Around," as well as "Hook," while promoting its recently-released 11th studio album "Suzie Cracks the Whip" with first single "You Don't Have to Love Me."
Cracker and Big Head Todd & the Monsters began the night's festivities with newer and nostalgic offerings from their likewise multi-decade songbooks.
- News