I have a complicated relationship with Our Lady Peace. If you’ve been reading this blog for the past few years, you’ll know it’s a point I’ve belaboured over and over again. Our relationship became strained after a series of (at least what I perceived to be) missteps: the departure of founding guitarist Mike Turner (who was growing uncomfortable with the band’s evolution), the hiring of Bob Rock to be their producer, a pair of atrocious albums, the reigning-in of former wunderkid drummer Jeremy Taggart…it was one alienating move after another. Raine Maida, meanwhile, who admittedly lost his head somewhere up his own ass somewhere around Happiness…Is Not a Fish That You Can Catch, was becoming so self-absorbed on stage it was even becoming difficult to appreciate Our Lady Peace live. As a result, and after much soul-searching, I stopped being a fan. (In the name of full disclosure, I never even considered buying their most recent album–I don’t even know the album title off-hand–and didn’t pick up their live DVD. And I used to be in the Pied Piper’s Union!) I wish it didn’t have to happen like that, but I had no other choice.
And if you don’t know why this upsets me…well, ten years ago today I saw the band for the first time, at the Fort William Gardens in Thunder Bay. It was a seminal moment in my young life. I’d fallen in love with the band after Clumsy had come out; I subsequently bought Naveed, and over the next few months had become convinced that Our Lady Peace was the greatest band in the world. Their Thunder Bay concert (surely my hometown’s most-anticipated concert in years?) sold out in a record hour-and-a-half (our venues don’t have on-line sales). People camped out overnight in the freezing cold for a shot at tickets. When the concert finally rolled around, anticipation was at a fever pitch.
I left feeling like I’d witnessed the Second Coming (the setlist, by the way: Automatic Flowers, Hope, Superman’s Dead, The Birdman, Car Crash, Let You Down, Trapeze, Carnival, Julia [piano version], Naveed, Neon Crossing, Starseed, Dear Prudence [by the Beatles]; encore, 4 am, Clumsy). Not everyone agreed with me; Raine Maida stopping “Clumsy” to cuss someone out who was giving him the finger rubbed at least a few people the wrong way. As far as I was concerned, however, it’d been a perfect night–and while I’ve seen much better concerts since then (including much better Our Lady Peace concerts, notably the infamous Grant Hall concert of November 2000), Our Lady Peace at the Fort William Gardens is still a landmark in my life as a music fan.
You can’t choose your favourite bands anymore than you can control with whom you fall in love. With Our Lady Peace and me, that’s certainly the case–and no matter what’s happened since (and from here on in, for that matter), I still can’t deny the powerful effect they had on me. For that–for Naveed, for Clumsy and for my first Our Lady Peace concert ten years ago this evening–I’m grateful. And I’m grateful I got to hear “Neon Crossing” live at least once.