adrian o’brien photo
By Steve Newton
Let’s face it: straight-up, melodic, guitar-driven rock ‘n’ roll has been taking a shit-kicking of late. In the age of evil EDM and the dreaded DJ it’s hard to find a guitar-bass-drums combo that’ll knock you out with a show that’s electrifying from beginning to end.
It happened at the Commodore last night, though.
The Age of Electric–one of Canada’s most acclaimed rock bands in the ’90s–played its first Vancouver gig in some 18 years, reuniting the original lineup of Saskatchewan-born brothers Todd and John Kerns and Ryan and Kurt Dahle. I’d seen the group live in their ’90s heyday, and they were always strong, but surprisingly–considering how long they’ve been apart–they’re even more powerful now. I guess the various members’ years in groups like Limblifter, Mounties, Static in Stereo, Slash with Myles Kennedy & the Conspirators, and the New Pornographers has just made them better all-around players.
Holy crap were they smokin’ last night!
I’d gotten used to seeing Todd Kerns as the bassist and backing vocalist for Slash, so forgot what an awesome frontman and lead singer he is. The dude is rock personified, from his flying black locks on down.
Scruffier-than-usual lead-guitarist Ryan Dahle wangled the most kick-ass sound I’ve ever heard from a Telecaster while proving himself an honours grad from the Steve Jones School of Slashing Riffs.
Bassist John Kerns–who still resembles the scary guy you’d see in old WANTED posters for escaped convicts–was crazy solid on the bottom end. He still plays with his instrument slung waaaayyyy down low, and sometimes when he feels like it even uses his fretting hand to play.
And drummer Kurt Dahle was a beer-swilling, percussive force of nature. He was also the main chuckle-bringer, using comical voices and teasing the quartet into off-the-cuff renditions of Aerosmith‘s “Walk this Way” and–like it or not–Honeymoon Suite’s “New Girl Now”.
The bros were having a total riot up there, and the good-time vibe enveloped the entire room.
It wasn’t just old AOE hits and popular covers that rued the night, though. The guys pulled out three brand new songs–“Kids Break Bones”, “Elephant in the Room”, and “Keys”–and, I shit you not, each one was killer! If there’s one savvy record-label boss still operating out there in today’s music wasteland I’d suggest he sign Age of Electric to a multi-album deal as soon as physically possible.
Lord knows we need music by bands like them right now.