Month: October 2018



Anyone who might have stumbled in off the street (as if- tickets for both shows sold out months ago) into one of the two annual thanksgiving 54-40 shows at the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver would have felt the immediate wave of contagious energy spreading from the band, into the crowd of mostly 50-somethings, through the stretches of the ballroom, and pouring down the stairs to the street.

For the duration of the show, hundreds of listeners followed the band’s lead in throwing their bodies and voices into the full range of the band’s extensive repertoire of Vancouver classics. The audience carried an invariable ease and full-heartedness that can only come from hundreds of lifetimes spent listening to the same rock songs over, over and over again. This was a crowd who had been faithful to the Tsawwassen-based band as they grew up through the ‘80s, spread their sound through Canada, and developed an international fan base.

The show was opened by Toronto-based The Skydiggers, who delivered energetic, classically-Canadian rock that is decades in the making. A perfect pairing in style, charisma and energy to 54-40, a group that is 30+ years in- with no sign of stopping, as they put it.


Words never ringing more true to the quartet – composed of lead vocalist Neil Osbourne, bassist Brad Merritt, drummer Matt Johnson, and guitarist Dave Genn – than on this weekend. Hours before the October 5th show, the beloved band had seven of their vintage, one-of-a-kind guitars stolen out of a u-Haul van in New Westminster. The instruments were worth a combined $50,000 – but irreplaceable to members of the band.

You fall in love with [the instruments] and you feel so good when you play them…they’re part of your identity”, said one in an interview with Global News.

With only a few hours to absorb the loss, find borrowed and rented instruments, and turn around to deliver a top-quality show to hundreds of fans, the band held true to their promise of not stopping – or even slowing.

The group delivered an unwavering, uncompromised show, with enthusiasm and intensity that spanned the show and only grew as the band rocked through extended renditions of fan favourites like How’s Your Day Going, Sucker For Your Love, and, the long-time Canadian favourite that nobody could get enough of, Ocean Pearl. To say the band left the crowd satisfied is an understatement- they played a full show and only stopped after not one, but two encores.

Well this wasn’t supposed to happen” – Osbourne, after relentless cheering, stomping and howling pulled the band back on stage for the second time.


In a brief pause between songs, Osbourne, perhaps reflecting on their loss that day, paused to say as much to himself as to the blur of faces before him:

At thanksgiving we count our blessings. More importantly, we should make our blessings count. I don’t know, man, I just want love.


If what the band wanted was love, they got it that night at the Commodore- from the fan sporting an original ‘80s 54-40 jersey, to the familiar faces the band pointed out in the crowd, and the somewhat-spontaneous but totally-awesome on-stage collaboration with Andy Maize of The Skydiggers.


…They also got five of their seven guitars back a few days later, thanks to anonymous love from a police tip leading to a storage locker in Surrey.

Review + Photos: Frances Ankenman

On The Run 2 // Beyoncé and Jay-Z


A lot has happened with The Carters since the first On the Run tour in 2014. The public has since witnessed a saga of marital issues in the form of songs on Beyoncé’s “Lemonade” and their collab album “Everything Is Love.” For their most recent tour, On The Run 2The Carters tied it all together and put on a show that tells the story of betrayal, confession, forgiveness and, most of all, love. 

Initially for their duets, Jay-Z and Beyoncé used catwalks that ran across different sides of the crowd, allowing them to address the audience separately, symbolizing a divide. Come second half, The Carters shared a floating platform that moved over the crowd as clips of them renewing their vows played on the big screen. The band then performed through silhouettes of church windows, exemplifying forgiveness and redemption.


When performing their solo pieces, the couple had separate artistic aesthetics and owned the spotlight in their own ways. Beyoncé; with her army of strong female backup dancers in lush costumes that accented her glittering body suits. She oozed female empowerment through her choreography, performing as a unit with her dancers in “Formation” and “Run the World (Girls).” Jay-Z hypnotized the crowd with his masculine, truculent performance. He took over the stadium with his literal flame throwing spectacle of “Run This Town” and displayed political unrest in “99 Problems” where he wore a bull-proof vest and featured mugshots of fellow celebrities including Jane Fonda, Snoop Dogg and David Bowie.


Separately their performances brought messages of change within social justice and trials within ones self, making the large stadium feel intimate. Jay-Z’s performance of “The Story of OJ” and Beyoncé’s “Resentment” brought beauty with the small, quiet moments every show needs. When The Carters came together and performed as a unit with classics like “Crazy in Love,” “Bonnie and Clyde,” and “Naughty Girl,” the night moved towards reconciliation, bringing back these feel good favourites of the early 2000’s.


On the Run 2 made you feel like you were apart of this Hollywood ride, full of extravagance, beauty, political substance and personal trial, all leading to one union. Beyoncé in a long glistening black gown with gold embroidery stands next to Jay-Z as they bring the crowd down with “Young Forever.” The couple share a kiss as you experience The Carters’ happy ending where Everything is Love.

Review: Sophia Niewerth

Photos: Raven Verona