Hootie & the Blowfish with Barenaked Ladies: Sounds Like a Party to Me

The Group Therapy Tour was just the medicine needed for more than 15,000 fans that packed into CMAC this past Friday night. This being the first time they’ve toured in over a decade, Hootie & the Blowfish was not only celebrating the 25th anniversary of Cracked Rear View Mirror‘s release back in 1994, but also announced their upcoming album Imperfect Circle, due for release this fall.

Opening and getting the night started was the Barenaked Ladies. With Ed Robertson on lead vocals and guitar; Jim Creeggan on bass and vocals; Tyler Stewart on percussion and vocals; and Kevin Hearn on keyboards, guitar and vocals; this quartet have perfected their harmonies and playing over the years, but it’s their stage presence that really lifts them above most bands. The one thing that hits you first (if this is the first time you’ve seen them live) is they have so much fun playing together. Racing across the stage, playing to not only the crowd but to each other, fun has to be their middle name (Barenaked Fun Ladies), just has to be.

They are known for their improvisation – their number one hit “One Week” was added to the album Stunt to demonstrate their flair of improv and the energy they exude during their live shows. Capturing it perfectly on the album and again Friday night, these fun loving guys have proven they still have what it takes to get the crowd out of their seats, dancing and singing. In fact, if the band “Had a Million Dollars,” they wouldn’t have to buy their love because it was right there in front of them as the crowd sang the lyrics word for word while the band pitched and knocked stuffed animals out of the park. Closing the set out with a mash up of some favorite rock songs, percussionist Tyler Stewart demonstrated what his and the other band members’ strongest qualities are: their versatility and talent, both vocally and musically.

With a quick changeover, it was just minutes before Hootie & the Blowfish took the stage. The moment they came out, the crowd rose to their feet. With hands in the air and phones on record, the crowd ate up every moment they played, hungry for more.

The setlist was outstanding, giving the crowd a taste of an expanse of music from their library, those that have influenced them along the way, and just favorites of both the crowd and the band. Joining them a few songs into their set, one of the best moments of the night was when Barenaked Ladies sat in for a cover of the Beatles’ “A Little Help from My Friends.” This classic song was just an epic choice to feature all these talented musicians and what they bring to the stage.

Like a storybook unfolding, Darius told a story the whole evening through music. Sharing past hits from music that influenced them, such as R.E.M.’s “Losing My Religion,” and showing how music can soothe and collectively unite as he and the band dedicated “Will the Circle Be Unbroken?” to the families and victims of the past week’s shootings, it once again demonstrated how music heals and is a universal language to which everyone can relate.

With a new album to be released on September 6, those in attendance got just a taste of what’s to come. This will be the first album they’ve released since 2005’s Looking for Lucky. A performance of “Rollin’ as an appetizer left the crowd wanting more, at least it did for this photojournalist.

Despite a slow start to the evening that included the massive number of people coming in to the venue, the issues with ticketing (CMAC is a Ticketmaster venue so buying from third parties is not encouraged or honored) and a strange rain storm that occurred in the beginning of the evening, (rain on one side of the amphitheater and not the other), all in all, it was an amazing night of music that made all the gray moments shine like the rainbow that appeared right before the show began.

Barenaked Ladies Setlist: Bringing It Home, Odds Are, It’s All Been Done, Gonna Walk, The Old Apartment Matter of Time, Brian Wilson, Lookin’ Up, Pinch Me, Big Bang Theory Theme, One Week, If I Had a Million Dollars, Barenaked Rap: Shallow / Old Town Road / Sicko Mode / High Hopes / Whole Lotta Love / Another One Bites the Dust

Hootie & The Blowfish Setlist: Samuel L. Jackson Ezekiel 25:17, Hannah Jane, State Your Peace, I Go Blind (54-40 cover), Sad Caper, Not Even the Trees, With a Little Help From My Friends (Beatles cover with Barenaked Ladies), Hold My Hand, I Will Wait, Let Her Cry, Hey Hey What Can I Do (Led Zeppelin cover), Will the Circle Be Unbroken?, Desert Mountain Showdown, I Hope I Don’t Fall in Love With You (Tom Waits cover), Alright (Darius Rucker song), Running From an Angel, Losing My Religion (R.E.M. cover), Time, Rollin’, Wagon Wheel (Old Crow Medicine Show cover), Old Man & Me, When I Get to Heaven / Fight the Power / Freaks of the Industry Encore: Goodbye, Go and Tell Him (Soup cover), Only Wanna Be With You / Get Down on It, Country Roads (John Denver cover)