Page plays with Dolls

Concert ReviewFebruary 19, 2011Ottawa Sun

Steven Page did his best to put the Barenaked Ladies behind him at Friday night’s National Arts Centre gig.

But opening for those power ballad pinups the Goo Goo Dolls, it was a one step forward, two steps back kind of affair, with a set that would alternate, perhaps too easily, between the Page that fronted the “If I Had a Million Dollar” pranksters, and the new, more mature solo artist.

But no one said that transition would be easy.

The driving creative force behind the Ladies until 2009, Page remains a rambunctiously entertaining frontman as well as a ferociously clever singer and songwriter. The only thing that seems to have changed is that he seems to have grown up and out of the fratboy shenanigans that was a big part of BNL’s schtick.

In it’s place was a humbled Page, making fun of himself and his fall from grace.

Dressed in a natty jacket and backed by the multitasking Bryden and Jesse Baird, his opening number, the BNL favourite “Jane” put the audience of 1,800 on alert for what would be a mixed bag, alternating old BNL tunes such as “Old Apartment,” with new tunes including “Indecision”, “She’s Trying To Save Me”, “Clifton Springs” from his 2010 “Page One”.

Not surprisingly, they fit together seamlessly.

That being said, Page proved to be solidly entertaining, mashing “It’s All Been Done Before”, with a rousing mashup with the theme song from “The Price Is Right”, before closing with “Brian Wilson.”

In the end, Page did what he meant to do, and show the fans that he still has the brains and creative energy to do for himself what he did for the Ladies.

When it came to the headliners, never underestimate the power of good hair.

Despite a bad cold, Goo Goo Dolls’ vocalist John Rzeznik managed to scrape together enough of a voice to entertain a nearly sold-out National Arts Centre.

And when Rzeznik did lose his voice, well, there was still that hair to keep the ladies screaming for more.

The band from Buffalo is obviously made of hearty stuff. At least it showed as much in their standup performance as it does in their setlist of amplified love songs.

Opening with “The Sweetest Lie”, the first single from the new album “Something For the Rest of Us”, the Goo Goos got into a familiar groove and never looked back, cranking out jukebox favourites such as “Big Machine”, “Slide”, “Dizzy”, a rousing “Here is Gone”, “Can't Let It Go”, “Stay With You”, “Let Love In” and their monster hit, “Iris,” as best they could, with a brave Rzeznik hydrating between songs to get through the set.

Bassist Robbie Takac smoothly picked up a lot of the slack, plugging the new album and singing.

But the relentless setlist took its toll on Rzeznik’s ailing voice.

Too bad, not ones for vocal subtleties, or variety for that matter, every song came at the same monotonous fever pitch, one that even Rzeznik couldn’t sustain.

3 out of 5 stars

at National Arts Centre