[Works and photos by Ross MacDonald. – AC]
Canadian alt-rockers Our Lady Peace made on stop on their cross-country at Ottawa’s National Arts Centre on a rainy Tuesday evening. OLP’s tour is touted as “The Wonderful Future Theatrical Hologram Experience.” But those who were expecting a shimmering projection, like Princess Leia in Star Wars might have been somewhat disappointed.
There was no opening act, the show was all OLP. And before the show began on stage were two 2-metre tall boxes that had a high-definition display facing the audience; everyone was invited forward to look at the display before the lights were dimmed. The show opened with a recording of Raine Maida playing a solo acoustic version of ‘Are You Sad?’ projected from one of the hologram boxes. The acoustics of the NAC theatre was a perfect setting for this performance. This led to ‘In Repair’ when a projection of bassist Duncan Coutts joined Raine, being projected from the second hologram box. Part way through the song the real Steve Mazur came on stage shredding a solo.
The band then picked up on this momentum, all coming out on stage, and broke into several of their big hits, including ‘One Man Army’ where Raine picked up his megaphone to add vocal effects. Raine is a quintessential frontman, he effortlessly gets crowd participation, having the audience sing the choruses to ‘Innocent’.
The hologram boxes were used between songs to play recorded messages from the futurist Ray Kurzweil, the technological inspiration to the band. And during the intermission DJ Noah, the music director at local alt-rock radio station LiVE 885 hyped the band in a recorded message. It is evident that OLP wants to push the technological envelope used on tour; however, these interludes seemed to break up the show’s momentum. The audience was definitely there to see OLP play their music.
OLP doesn’t need any distractions, all four members are masters at their craft: from Raine’s distinctive vocals to the beautiful syncopation of Jason Pierce’s drumming and the unbelievable dexterity of Duncan on both bass and keyboard. And Steve’s mastery on guitar was the highlight of the night. Not only does he shred with the best, as showcased in ‘Drop Me In The Water’, but often it is also how Steve holds notes and lets them ring out so that vocals aren’t overpowered.
The best use of the hologram boxes was so that the band could bring supporting musicians on-stage with them. Original OLP guitarist Mike Turner played a recording of guitar for ‘All My Friends’ and the finale ‘Starseed’ (at some venues Mike Turner also appeared live on stage, not in Ottawa). Sarah Sleen played a recording of vocals and piano for ‘Julia’ with Raine backing her up on vocals. And the highlight of the hologram appearances was Nadezhda Tolokonnikova of punk band Pussy Riot who did the backing vocals on ‘Stop Making Stupid People Famous’.
The crowd in Ottawa was thrilled to have OLP back playing the live music that they love to hear.
Raine Maida – lead vocals, acoustic guitar
Duncan Coutts – bass guitar, backing vocals
Steve Mazur – guitar, backing vocals
Jason Pierce – drums, percussion, backing vocals
With hologram performances by:
Mike Turner – guitar on ‘All My Friends’ and ‘Starseed’
Sarah Sleen – vocals and piano on ‘Julia’
Nadezhda Tolokonnikova – backing vocals on ‘Stop Making Stupid People Famous’