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 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:

Columbus Symphony Welcomes Families To Halloween Spooktacular Photo
Columbus Symphony Welcomes Families To Halloween Spooktacular

The Columbus Symphony invites families to celebrate Halloween with some “boo-tiful” music, courtesy of the musicians of the symphony and Associate Conductor Andrés Lopera. Learn more about the performance and find out how to attend here!

Feature: RAGTIME THE MUSICAL at Lincoln Theater Photo
Feature: RAGTIME THE MUSICAL at Lincoln Theater

David Glover is out to disprove the adage of “Those who can’t do, teach” when he takes on the role of Coalhouse Walker Jr. in Columbus Children’s Theater production of RAGTIME THE MUSICAL. The Terrance McNally musical will be performed Sept. 22-Oct. 1 at the Lincoln Theater (769 E. Long St. in downtown Columbus).

Photos: First look at Rise Up Art Alliance Community Theatres THE DAY ALIENS ATTACKED FAIR Photo
Photos: First look at Rise Up Art Alliance Community Theatre's THE DAY ALIENS ATTACKED FAIRFIELD

Fairfield’s a place where nothing ever happens, at least not since Billy Myers got that nasty papercut a decade ago. And with the exception of a pair of vain newscasters, a few fringe skywatchers, and a kooky grandfather living in a galactically fantastic past, most townsfolk are okay with their humdrum ways. Like it or not, though, the winds of change are about to descend on Fairfield faster than a delivery from the town’s famous Flying Saucer Pizza. A couple of love-struck teens report an alien sighting, and Fairfield finds itself in a frenzy. Luckily, the members of SAWPE (that’s the Society of Alien Watchers to Protect Earth) are selling tinfoil hats to help protect everyone. Even the president comes to this sleepy burg, but not everyone in town agrees with his plan to attack the space-traveling Zordonians. It’ll be up to a brave little girl and her unwavering grandpa to stop a war of the worlds in this ridiculously silly one-act comedy that’s out of this world! Performances are Sept.15 at 7pm, Sept.16 at 2pm & 7pm, & Sept.17 at 4pm, 2023, at Lancaster Parks & Recreation, 701 Union Street, Lancaster, OH 43130. Purchase tickets:

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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