Posted on April 18th, 2011
Born Ruffians had a hard act to follow at the Opera House this past Saturday April 16 in Toronto. No, not their opening act Rich Aucoin but a certain rap icon that has had a surprising influence on the band. “Raekwon was here last night and I think we wrote our set list on his champagne box,” drummer Steve Hamelin said, introducing their second song of the night “Soul Brother.” “This song is about Raekwon, sort of.”
The show was the last on a year long tour to celebrate their latest album Say It and the last show before the guys start working on a new album. Their first performance on this tour was also in Toronto at the Horseshoe Tavern so hometown shows bookended the tour. Check out my review of that sweaty show here. The venue was packed to the brim, with people hanging over the edge of the balcony. A lot of the crowd was made up of underagers. Most of the hands swaying to the songs were marked with big black X’s courtesy of the Opera House’s bouncer.
As talented as I have always considered this band, I had never quite picked up on Luke’s impressive guitar skills, possibly because I am always distracted but his unique acrobatic voice. But, on Saturday night Luke really shredded (I take that back) and managed to pull my attention to the up and down jumps of his guitar that almost mirror the flips his voice makes. Generation Y’s short attention span and hyperactivity is epitomized in the Ruffians. Their songs feel like three songs in one, with changes so abrupt, you need a neck brace.
Singer Luke Lalonde was dressed very unlike at the Horseshoe Tavern when I saw them last in May. Instead of the thin white tank top, Lalonde was sharp in a polka dot button up, tweed jacket and crisp jeans. And while we are briefly on the topic of the band’s appearance, I’ve always considered Mitch’s hair to be the fourth and now fifth member of the band and tonight was no exception. That boy knows how to rock a hair style.
Near the end of the set, the guys pulled out the fan favourite “Hummingbird.” The band started it out slow and built it up to the expected tempo. The crowd was itching to throw out the singable line “Fly away the hummingbird” when it came. I even heard a girl beside me say to her friend, “Are you ready?” seconds before the lyric was belted out by the entire audience.
The encore ended with “Kurt Vonnegut,” from Red, Yellow & Blue which, if I can remember correctly, I have never seen them play live. The band managed to keep it entertaining for regular concert attendees by making the song into a special live rendition with an amazing breakdown mid-song. It will be sad to see the boys go but it will be worth the wait to get new songs out of them.
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