Orlando, FL November 8, 2006
by Linda Tate
It seems that Mike Doughty has recently found the ticket to longevity. After the dissolution of his former band Soul Coughing, Doughty was in a hard place, being dropped from his label and addicted to heroin, but somehow he managed to rise above it. He got together with Dan Wilson (former singer of Semisonic) and got the early stages of his current album Haughty Melodic together. After Dave Matthews heard it, it was off to the races.
At the Hard Rock Live in Orlando, Doughty opened for Barenaked Ladies. While a rather odd combination at first thought, with Doughty's style and BNL's over-the-top shows, it makes perfect sense as the night unfolds. Doughty came out and was a mile a minute performer, "on" from the moment he set foot onstage. Since I've never seen Soul Coughing live, I had little to go on by way of expectations but having Haughty Melodic on repeat for awhile, I was hoping these songs would hold up well live. Doughty's stage presence and his smart lyrics did not disappoint. The tone of his songs are a bit Soul Coughing but you can soon see that this is pure Mike. Performing some of the more recognized songs, "Busting Up a Starbucks", "I Hear the Bells" and "Looking at the World from the Bottom of a Well" got the crowd going and the energy in the room was jacked. Some hidden gems on the album like "White Lexus" and "Tremendous Brunettes" still had the crowd entranced when Mike started strumming. If the Doughty portion of the night was anything to go by, this was going to be a great show.
The incomparable Barenaked Ladies hit the stage hard and kept it going from the first note until the last one hung in the air. The banter and stage antics of the band were entertaining and kept the crowd sucked in for the duration. Their music is just fun, no matter how you cut it, no matter how you try hide it, this stuff is entertainment in a pure and simplistic form. No deep thinking, nothing heavy and nothing emo. The upbeat songs are usually full of sarcasm and/or comedy and the few ballads they have cut to the quick. They played songs from each of their albums, from "Brian Wilson" and "If I Had a $1,000,000" off the Gordon LP all the way to "Easy", "Bank Job", "Wind It Up" and "I Can I Will I Do" from the brand new Barenaked Ladies Are Me. In the middle of their set, they did a small acoustic session. They all came up front and did a few of their older songs, one being "Alternative Girlfriend". It was a nice breather and showcased their harmonies to perfection. Their vocal abilities and musicianship were apparent when stripped down.
The band's career started in Canada in 1989 but came to U.S. recognition with the 1992 release of Gordon and they've steadily put out lighthearted music ever since. Just as you'd imagine, it was a pleasant mix of the middle-aged that started to love them with "Gordon", the next generation that found them with "Stunt" and "Maroon" and newly minted fans who just found "Barenaked Ladies Are Me". The crowd was full of uninhibited concertgoers who gladly sang along, danced, jumped and lit the ceremonial lighters. There were times where the volume of the crowd's singing overshadowed Steven and Ed's. It's proof positive of the adage- fun band = fun crowd. The band's energy equalled the crowd's from start to finish, leaving everyone in the crowd spent as the show ended. Saving "If I Had a $1,000,000" for one of the encore tunes was a wise move, leave the crowd with the catchiest one ya got! I'm sure they were humming in the cars on the way home...I know I was.