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Sam Roberts Band

by Kirsten Ferguson on October 6, 2011 · 3 comments


The Sam Roberts Band are one of the biggest rock acts in Canada, with multiple gold records and six Juno awards (Canada’s equivalent of the Grammy). But musical success often seems to stall out at the border, sometimes inexplicably, so Roberts was pretty happy to fill Northern Lights last Friday with several hundred people.

“We were here eight, nine years ago as an opening band,” the singer-songwriter said midway through his group’s headlining set. “We had like 23 people, so to see you all here tonight is a great feeling.”

The Sam Roberts Band played Albany’s Tulip Festival back in May, and local radio stations WEXT and WEQX have been spinning the group’s excellent new album, Collider, adding to the local buzz for the Montreal band. If they don’t break out further, it will be too bad. Roberts may be a pretty face, but his smart roots-pop songs are well-crafted, with loads of catchy hooks and clever lyrics. Live, his five-piece band really smokes, in a rootsy and organic (though not hippie-meandering) way.

During their hour-and-a-half-long Northern Lights set, which was opened by Canadian indie-rockers Zeus and Glens Falls alt-rock group Pillowhead, the Sam Roberts Band played two-thirds of Collider while adding selections from their Inhuman Condition EP and three prior full-length major label albums: Chemical City, Love at the End of the World and We Were Born in a Flame.

For the dark, driving opener “I Feel You,” the intense-eyed Roberts was shrouded in stage fog, adding to the song’s spooky vibe. Lead guitarist Dave Nugent chimed in with energetic backup choruses on “With a Bullet,” a potent declaration of love. And horns man Chet Doxas (a recent touring addition) added wailing saxophone to “Fixed to Ruin” and “Let It In.” Roberts donned an acoustic guitar for the head-bopping “Twist the Knife” followed by “Detroit ’67,” a piano-and-sax-driven boogie and the straight-up rocker, “Love at the End of the World.” Roberts heeded a fan request for the mellow ballad “Words and Fire” before filling the last third of the set with barnburners, including “The Last Crusade” and “Without a Map,” two highlights from Collider.

“Cheers, Albany,” Roberts said before downing a gifted tequila shot, tossing the glass to the side of the stage, and closing with encores of the mysterious “Graveyard Shift,” the funkified “No Sleep” and the power-poppish “Don’t Walk Away Eileen.”


LV October 6, 2011 at 6:32 pm


I enjoyed the SRB show also. However, this write up has the same error I’ve seen made publicly once already.

“which was opened by Canadian indie-rockers Zeus” – This is wrong.

Two or three things actually bother me about this now. First, that poor bloke who played first was called just three hours before the show and asked to fill in time because of Zeus cancelling due to their van breaking down. He did his best going solo acoustic before a crowed mostly unresponsive (he’s yet to get his due in any write up I’ve seen). Second, it is yet another example of a published review in a local media outlet that illustrates how shoddy reviewing has become in Albany, not even bothering to do basic questioning outside of looking at the list of acts. Third, personally I was disappointed that Zeus was not able to make the show, what the opening act was (before Pillowhead took the stage) could never be mistaken for Zeus, as has been done.

LV October 6, 2011 at 7:25 pm

My apologies – Correction: Kirsten, I like your name better anyways.

LV October 6, 2011 at 7:08 pm

Just for some sense of justice :) – I thought I’d mention the first act. His name is Nate Danker. Found this interesting Bio on his myspace (he’s on that other thing also):

“It’s difficult these days to find a musician that is playing music for themselves with no other ulterior motives, but that is exactly what songwriter Nate Danker is doing. Hailing from Albany, NY with a fresh sense of honesty and assertive nature in the indie scene. A modern day Jekyll and Hyde, Nate seems to have his fork and knife in many plates of the music scene.”