Concert Review: Randy Bachman, August 19, CNE Bandshell


“I hear a bunch of you yelling out songs,” said Randy Bachman a few songs into his set at the Bandshell on the opening night of the CNE. “That’s good because we’re going to play every one of them.”

True to his word, Bachman played all the hits … and he’s got a lot of hits. While he has written a fair number of hits, many of those are songs that have been sung by others so I suppose it wasn’t too surprising that Bachman relied on members of his backing band to take the lead on many numbers, with his bassist (who was wearing a rather long jacket – I think he was going for a zoot suit kind of thing, but it came across more like a smock or a black labcoat) taking on the bulk of the Burton Cummings numbers. It was perhaps a bit surprising though when Bachman tossed out a few hits by other artists in a huge medley during “Hey You” that incorporated snippets of Free’s “All Right Now,” Steve Miller’s “Rock’n Me,” AC/DC’s You Shook Me All Night Long,” and even a bit of “Hot Legs” by Rod Stewart. I guess when it comes down to it, people love to hear hits, and a hit is a hit whether it was your hit or not, so why should Bachman shy away from dropping a few crowd pleasers into his set?

They also threw a chunk of “Whole Lotta Love” into the middle of “American Woman,” which Bachman introduced as “a Canadian blues about an American woman.” In fact, Bachman seemed to be on a bit of a Led Zeppelin kick on this night, throwing the opening riff from “Stairway To Heaven” onto the end of one song, while also playing a Zeppelin pastiche version of “Undun” immediately after playing the standard version of that number. Bachman explained how he was first inspired to write the song during the Seattle Pop Festival (jazzy chord progressions and a Dylan lyric) and how if things went another way, he could have gone to the room next to him and played it for Page and Plant instead of Burton Cummings. “And that’s what it would have sounded like!” It reminded me of the type of story one might hear him tell on his CBC radio program Vinyl Tap (in fact, he probably has told it on there before) and frankly, I kind of expect him to tell those sorts of stories. And to namedrop other classic rockers he’s rubbed elbows with. After being out there playing shows and generally (if you’ll pardon the expression*) takin’ care of business for the past 50 years or so, I’d expect no less from him.

* I think we’re required by law to include the phrase “Takin’ care of business” whenever writing about Randy Bachman. Pretty sure it’s in the Canadian constitution or something.

Posted on by Paul in Concerts