An intimate night with Sloan

The audience may have been a small one but they made up for it in adoration for the 5 man crew of Sloan. The cross between a school gymnasium and a concert theatre of The Bragg Creek Centre made for a casual and inviting atmosphere. The band crossed the auditorium floor to the stage as the crowd chanted SLO-an! It reminded one of a European football crowd. After bassist Chris Murphy pointed out the sizable gap between the stage and the first row of chairs, the Sloan diehards made it disappear instantly.

After 22 years in service, and an average age of 44, Sloan still knows how to kick out the jams. There is a surprising rawness to this group that age has not burnished. They mean what they say and they say what they mean. They are real and unpretentious onstage.

Drummer Andrew Scott’s powerful, fluid and dynamic drumming ensured the energy never lagged. He made the seductive champagne sparkle Ludwig drum kit sound like a song in itself. As one of the four writers for the group, Scott traded places with Murphy on a couple of occasions to take lead vocal and guitar, soundly stepping into the role of front man.

Bragg Creek Centre for the Performing Arts
September 28th 2013
Photography by: Charles Hope

Murphy’s drumming is musical and passionate, giving exactly what the song requires. A highly engaging front man and principle writer, he handles his Fender Mustang bass like a teenage stoner intent on revenge.

Patrick Pentland in pork pie hat, looked more like a chap waiting for a bus, but became a punk pop star with the single stroke of a power chord from his white Gibson SG. This guy makes the guitar talk and delivers his familiar tunes like a pissed off kid.

Jay Ferguson sprinkled his flavour over the music with jangley Rickenbacker rhythm and tasty guitar work throughout. He is the perfect musical foil to Pentland. Ferguson seemed a bit subdued this evening, but he balanced any of that with the singing of his beautiful melodies and a very happening hat.

Touring keyboardist Gregory McDonald (I should know, I googled it) performed triple duty with the addition of percussion and background vocals. He’s been helping round out the band’s live sound for 10 years.

Not presently touring in support of an album, (their latest is 2011’s excellent The Double Cross) Sloan spanned the breadth of their career with their choice of songs. They have a lot to choose from. The good in Everyone, The other man, The rest of my life, Money city maniacs, She’s slowing down again, to name but a few. The audience sang along, clapped, stomped and cheered. They should do for these warriors of the road, these two decade long survivors that still know how to stir it up.

Next on Sloan’s agenda is a double album on which each writer takes a side. If they don’t become world famous for their music then let it be for being the creators of the most successful democracy in rock. Everything in four equal parts. It’s the secret to their longevity.

If you haven’t seen Sloan yet, don’t worry, they’ll be at a gig near you soon. They are hard working Canucks. Everyman rock stars. They love what they do and all they know is the yellow line.

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