The Trews at Artpark (2009)


“You took a gamble on the weather and you won” said lead singer of The Trews Colin MacDonald prior to their show at Artpark back in July and, believe me, the deafening ovation that followed showed just how aware the audience was of their improbable kismet.

I say improbable, because the day had been consumed by unremitting rains and ominous skies that showed no sign of letting up until the concert was already underway.

Call it divine intervention or just plain coincidence, but the sun blazed through the hazy Lewiston air just as the band tore into their opening number “Dark Highway” and instantly set the tone for what was to be a dynamic evening of potent Canadian rock music.

Out to support their latest release “No Time for Later,” The Trews were on fire from the start and seemed to know exactly what the diehard followers wanted to hear. “Not Ready to Go,” “So She’s Leaving,” “Paranoid Freak” and “Can’t Stop Laughing” were all flawless in their operation, so the chances of anyone going home disappointed were eradicated rather early in the proceedings.

What I’ve always liked about this modest band from Antagonish, Nova Scotia is its aversion to anything resembling the bloated, over-sensationalized rock and roll we’ve become accustomed to hearing on commercial radio as of late.

No pyrotechnics, no synthesizers and certainly no electronic voice manipulation to make MacDonald sound like T-Pain or Akon.

They’re simply an awesome, no-frills bar band that is finally getting the attention they deserve and the timing couldn’t be better.

High points of the set include a timely yet chilling acoustic take on Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” as well as scorching covers of Humble Pie’s “30 Days in the Hole” and the Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter.”

The cover portion of the show is an opportunity for guitarist John-Angus MacDonald to unleash his chops and disappear to a planet that hasn’t even been discovered yet. He becomes a one-man show whose instrument takes on a feral existence of its own throughout each searing tinge of the solo, while the bystanders have no choice but to look on in deep approbation.

I’ve caught them twice this year and both shows were as high-energy as they come, so I urge you to check them out the next time they’re in the area.

For those who can’t wait, The Trews will be at the Water Street Music Hall in Rochester on Sept. 26 and just a quick jaunt over the border in Hamilton, Ont. on Nov. 11 for a show at The Studio at Hamilton Place.

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