The Trews shake up the Commodore Ballroom

The Trews with Chase the Bear and Altameda at the Commodore Ballroom, 1/25/19

The Trews @ The Commodore Ballroom on Jan. 25 / 2019
Photo by Mariko Margetson

Arguably the most Canadian band in history, the Trews have a reputation for throwing down high energy performances that are perfect for drinking beers and singing along to with a group of your closest friends.

Friday, January 25th at the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver was no different, although they did have a little help from the opening acts.

Bands like Chase the Bear are the reason why it’s worth going to see the opening acts.  Winners of last year’s Live Acts’ Best in Vancouver award, the energetic six-member crew captivated concert goers as they unleashed a rowdy repertoire of hard rock songs with hints of blues and even a little soul. It was exactly what one can expect from a band whose members were clad in everything from red jackets, to pin stripes, paisley and top hats. That sweet, sweet sounding Gibson Les Paul helped too.

Edmonton-based foursome, Altameda was up next and kept everyone in party mode with a sound that managed to pull off being a little punchy and yet smooth at the same time. The last song of their set was a winner. A song brimming with nostalgia and laced with the devil-may-care kind of wisdom that only heartache can teach us.

Fans were jostling for position before The Trews took the stage and it’s probably fair to say that any effort to get a good view was rewarded. They strode confidently onto the stage and went right into “Vintage Love,” a single from their latest album that at times feels like a love song dedicated to their fans. 

The Trews @ The Commodore Ballroom on Jan. 25 / 2019
Photo by Mariko Margetson

The Trews have become accustomed to shaking things up in the last few years. New management in Gold Village Entertainment, new drummer in Chris Gormley (Big Sugar), and a new album, Civilianaires, the first with their new record label, Cadence Music. Phew!

That new album isn’t exactly a departure from their older work, but there is definitely something new about it that is difficult to nail down. It’s just a little more robust. Like using chipotle instead of jalapeno – it’s the same ingredient, but chipotle has been ripened, dried and smoked.

The evening saw a healthy dose of that new spice sprinkled all over it, as nearly every other song was a track from Civilianaires. The fans gobbled it all up, cheering and fist pumping throughout the evening.

The remainder of the songs were from the Trews’ deep catalog of hits. Highlights included an acoustic version of two classics, “In the Morning” and “Maggie and Ishmael.”  For these, the band gathered together at center stage while the crowd helped them sing every single word.

As ever, the physical presence of the band and the energy they bring to the stage helped elevate the performance. Colin MacDonald strode around the stage, and back and forth towards his brother, John-Angus, and cousin, Jack Syperek, before abruptly heading back to the microphone stand on the left side of the stage.

At one point John-Angus went for a walk into the crowd and up into the balcony where he lowered his Gibson over the railing and still managed to lay down some incredible riffs before joining the rest of the band back on stage.

The set ended with two favorites, “Poor Ol’ Broken-Hearted Me,” and “Tired of Waiting”, the song that first put The Trews on the map. The encore followed soon after and concluded with a hard hitting rendition of Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage” that somehow managed to work wrapped up inside the anthemic “Hold Me in Your Arms.” 

Before they left the stage for good, a hefty portion of confetti exploded from the stage and over the cheering crowd. Not something that is normally part of a Trews concert, but something that absolutely seemed to fit the mood of the evening.  Take that, Vancouver!