Review: LAST SUMMER ON EARTH at Kemba Live! Amphitheater

BNL, Semisonic and Del Amitri get the summer tour off to a raucous start.

By: Jun. 03, 2023
Review: LAST SUMMER ON EARTH at Kemba Live! Amphitheater

Pub pizza. Year-old fireworks. A box of chocolates. A Barenaked Ladies concert setlist.

You just never know what you are going to get with some things. But with the latter on that list, the results are usually amusing, acoustically pleasing, and extremely entertaining.

Such was the case when the Canadian quartet of Ed Robertson, Jim Creeggan, Tyler Stewart, and Kevin Hearn rolled into Columbus for the start of the “Last Summer on Earth” tour June 2 at the Kemba Live Amphitheater. How many bands would have the audacity to sandwich their own hits around songs by Taylor Swift, One Direction, Gordon Lightfoot, Def Leppard and with a pair of songs from THE SOUND OF MUSIC?

Yet, when the Barenaked Ladies do it, somehow it all makes perfect sense. Moments after doing its 1998 hit, “It’s All Been Done,” Robertson weaved the audience through a raucous version of Swift’s “Shake It Off.”

“Who knew there would be so many Swifties at a Barenaked Ladies concert?” Robertson mused. “Do you know what the difference is between a Taylor Swift concert and a BNL concert? You can get tickets for a Barenaked Ladies Concert.”

The Barenaked Ladies are a difficult band to pigeonhole. Since beginning in 1988, they have become known for their quirky novelty songs like “If I Had A Million Dollars,” “Be My Yoko Ono,” and the theme to THE BIG BANG THEORY. At the same time, they also have spun their fair share of dark twisted tales of abuse (“The Flag”), drugs (“War on Drugs”) and suicide (“When I Fall”). However, much of the morose selections of the BNL catalog were composed by former member Steven Page, who shared front man duties with Robertson until 2009.

Many of those heavier songs were absent from the band’s 20-plus song repertoire. This summer was about fluffy fan favorites (“One Week,” “Pinch Me,” “Brian Wilson”) and the moderately successful tunes from the post-Page era (“Gonna Walk,” “Odds Are,” and the show-opening “Matter of Time”) sprinkled in with new songs.  

“Everywhere we go, people always ask us to play more new music,” Robertson said, tongue in cheek as he introduced the Columbus crowd to his new song “Loving Life.”

The front man was more than willing to share the mike with bassist Creeggan, who provided the catchy, “Just Wait” and with keyboardist Hearn (“Haven’t Got Enough Time”).

However, it was Stewart who rattled and rocked the Last Summer On Earth opener. After a medley that started with “If You Could Read My Mind,” by the late Gordon Lightfoot, and segued into “Climb Every Mountain” and “So Long, Farewell,” from THE SOUND OF MUSIC, Stewart surrendered his drum kit to Robertson and preened and strutted his way through “Rock of Ages.”

The band returned for an encore performance of “The Old Apartment” for the final tune of the evening.

OPENING ACTS: One of the key ingredients for the last six “Last Summer on Earth” tours have been the choices for opening acts. In the past seven years, Guster, The Violent Femmes, the Ben Folds Five, and Colin Hay (Men at Work) have all taken the stage before BNL.

The June 2 openers Del Amitri and Semisonic continued that legacy.

The Scottish quartet, Del Amitri, reintroduced themselves to the American audience. As soon as Justin Currie launched into “Always the Last to Know,” it was if the crowd snapped their fingers in recognition with “Oh, it’s these guys.” The crowd was clearly in tune with the band by the time the four reached “Roll to Me.”

Minnesota trio Semisonic, which turned Roman philosopher Seneca’s quote, “Every new beginning comes from some other’s beginning’s end” into a fist pumping anthem on “Closing Time,” then took over the stage.

Dan Wilson (lead vocals, guitar, keyboards), John Munson (bass, keyboards, backing vocals, guitar), and Jacob Slichter (drums, percussion, keyboards, backing vocals) wowed the crowd with its other hit, “Chemistry” and its run at Outkast’s “Hey Ya” before finishing its nine-song set with “Closing Time.”

In 2012, the year the Mayans predicted the world would end, the Barenaked Ladies launched their first of seven Last Summer on Earth tours. If this indeed is “The Last Summer on Earth,” the Barenaked Ladies and company got it off to an amazing start.


Photos: First look at Hilliard Arts Councils CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY Photo
Photos: First look at Hilliard Arts Council's CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY

Who wouldn’t want to join Charlie Bucket in his adventurous tour of Willy Wonka’s world-famous Chocolate Factory? This family-friendly play tells the story of the impoverished boy Charlie, who wins a golden ticket to the mysterious, magical, and sometimes even dangerous world of Willy Wonka's design.Now is your chance with our For Kids, By Kids production of Roald Dahl’s classic story as a one act play adapted by Richard R. George! Favorite characters such as  Augustus Gloop, Violet Beauregarde, Veruca Salt, Mike Teevee, Grandpa Joe and of course Willy Wonka and Charlie himself come to life in front of your eyes.  

Feature: MOBY DICKS GONE MISSING at The Abbey Theater Of Dublin Photo
Feature: MOBY DICK'S GONE MISSING at The Abbey Theater Of Dublin

Irish playwright Sean Cooney was six or seven years old when the Hollywood Circus came to his hometown of Youghal, County Cork, Ireland.

Photos: First look at Little Theatre Off Broadways THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE  Photo
Photos: First look at Little Theatre Off Broadway's THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME

Christopher Boone, a 15-year-old, who is exceptional at Math but finds people confusing. The play opens with Christopher discovering a dead dog in his neighbor, Mrs. Shears' garden. Despite his father’s warning not to get involved, Christopher decides to investigate the death of the dog.

Photos: First look at Evolution Theatre Companys THE INHERITANCE Part 2 Photo
Photos: First look at Evolution Theatre Company's THE INHERITANCE Part 2

The Inheritance, written by Matthew Lopez, inspired by E.M. Forster’s masterpiece Howards End, “The Inheritance” is an epic examination of survival, healing, class divide and what it means to call a place home. Part 2 - Picking up where PART ONE ended, PART TWO takes its characters on roller-coaster journeys of self-discovery and self-destruction. All lives intersect as they face the decision to heal or to burn. Written by Matthew Lopez, Directed by Joe Bishara, featuring Frank Barnhart, Anthony Baldasare, Niko Carter , Mark P. Schwamberger, Jeff White, Dayton Edward Willison, Euan Baker, Ahmed Ankolkar, Jacob Erney, Bobby Loyd and Josie Merkle. Performances run Sept 21 - 30, 2023 at Abbey Theatre of Dublin, 5600 Post Rd. Dublin, Ohio 43017. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit:

From This Author - Paul Batterson

Since 2013, Paul Batterson has had a secret life: being a volunteer writer for BroadwayWorld. During this time, he has had the pleasure to see some of the best plays, musicals, and concerts, inte... (read more about this author)


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