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Our Lady Peace Be With Us

January 24, 1998

And fans fast to catch up with quick-rising band
It sure didn't take long for Canadian kids to "get" Our Lady Peace.
Less than a year ago, the band played to 620 people in the Dinwoodie Lounge.
Last night, it was 12,000 fans in the Coliseum - a young, rowdy crowd whose cheers threatened to drown out the newest kings of Canadian arena rock.
Move over, Tragically Hip.
Having paid hard dues on the road backing up the likes of Page and Plant, Van Halen and Alanis Morissette, the Toronto foursome was up to the task.
Our Lady Peace presented a hard-rocking, dynamic show remarkable both for psychedelic lighting effects and a dynamic array of moods. The band has only two albums, Naveed and Clumsy, but it turned out to be plenty of music to create a satisfying and diverse rock concert.
Following an energetic and delightfully sloppy set from opening band Everclear - plus the "evil puppet" episode of Twilight Zone shown on the screen during the break (a nice touch) - Our Lady Peace made its grand entrance. The crowd took to its feet immediately, cheering in a deafening din. The lights went down and band mascot and mentor Saul Fox appeared on the screen - a 75-year-old man dressed as an emaciated superhero. It was kind of creepy.
Through the opening tunes, Automatic Flowers and Hope, the spotty sound quality came together quickly as the band kicked the energy level to high gear.
The crowd's adulation was firmly focused on Raine Maida, the Hamlet-like singer of the band. Look in the dictionary under "intense young man" and his picture would be there. All he needed to do was stand there and girls would lose their minds. Needless to say, his nervy, flailing gyrations - at times rivalling Hip frontman Gord Downie - went over well. Singing with a strident nasal wail that revealed surprising range, it's as if his every tortured lyric was a psychic arrow through his heart. He couldn't lay it on thick enough.
A key dramatic moment came during Superman's Dead, featuring that distinctive, keening line: "whyeeiieeii" echoing across the arena. Maida paused near the end of the tune, letting the screams wash over him as huge lighting trusses moved above him.
"You guys feel like singing tonight?" he asked, needlessly, before leading the chant of "doesn't anybody ever know (repeat several times) that the world's a subway." What the hell is that supposed to mean, you ask? It doesn't matter. It works. The young audience (me and Everclear singer Art Alexakis were probably the oldest people there) knew all the words to OLP's most cryptic tunes.
Stranger and more dramatic moments followed. Between the hard-rockers came subtle highlights that included the dream-like ballad, 4 a.m., plus a piano and vocal version of one of the tracks recorded for Naveed. Cigarette lighters dotted the crowd for this one - the timeless "big rock" tribute for any slow, quiet song played by a rock band in a hockey arena.
One exotic-sounding song in particular was written about a husband and wife trapeze act, as Maida explained at great length. Upon realizing that his wife was having an affair with the human cannonball at precisely the moment he was about to swing down to catch his beloved, the husband had four seconds to think about it. That's what Trapeze is about: those four seconds, said Maida.
Get it? The crowd did.
Today arenas, tomorrow stadiums? Time will tell for Our Lady Peace. It didn't take long to get to this level.

By Mike Ross - Express Writer