Written by Bill Whiting
Photos by Bernice Whiting
One of the most anticipated conccerts of the summer revolved around a group of H.O.R.D.E. festival veterans known collectively as the Last Summer On Earth Tour 2012. It played the Fraze Pavilion in Kettering, Ohio on July 8, and lived up to the expectations surrounding it. First up on the bill was California’s Cracker, and lead singer David Lowery, along with guitarist Johnny Hickman, led the sold out venue’s patrons in a mass sing a long on the songs, “Euro-Trash Girl” and 1993’s classic anthem, “Low.”
Boulder, Colorado’s Big Head Todd and the Monsters’ bruising stew of blues and rock and roll proved to be an enormously popular mix on the overcast early July evening. Todd Park Mohr took center stage, sporting a Muhammad Ali t shirt while he belted out “Bittersweet” from 1993’s Sister Sweetly album, and “Come On In My Kitchen” from the Big Head Blues Club project entitled 100 Years of Robert Johnson. Bassist Robert Squires and drummer Brian Nevin pushed Big Head Todd and the Monsters’ rhythmic framework to the fore front of the sound system on the beguiling masterwork, “Broken Hearted Savior.”
They were a tough act to follow. But, H.O.R.D.E. founders Blues Traveler found a slippery stomping stride early on, crashing into a furious take on “But Anyway” from their 1990 self titled debut recording. The Princeton, New Jersey unit was celebrating it’s twenty five year anniversary in style, partying with the big hits “Run-Around” and “Hook” from the stunning 1994 release, four. Lead singer and harmonicist John Popper won over the Fraze’s audience with upbeat humor and razor sharp soloing, while lead guitarist Chan Kinchla pursued soulful leads to flesh out the Blues Traveler electrified experience.
Headliners Barenaked Ladies scored big points with the Fraze’s denizens, plowing through their catalog of radio hits, including “The Old Apartment” from 1996’s stellar disc, Born On a Pirate Ship and “Another Postcard” from 2003’s bouyant and thrilling LP, Everything to Everyone. Scarborough, Ontario, Canada’s finest had their followers packing the aisles, and dancing as lead singer Ed Robertson joked and played acoustic guitar on “Falling For the First Time.” Bassist Jim Creeggan and drummer Tyler Stewart put together a funky foundation of fluid percussive grooves to propel the Barenaked Ladies improvisational force of nature forward. A free flowing, unabashed, unapologetic good time entertainment mix of rock, pop and continually fresh sounding compositions dominated the Barenaked Ladies set, and they received a resounding standing ovation as they left the stage. Indeed, there were no weaknesses during the entire Last Summer On Earth show, and one hopes they decide to put it together again for a second run in 2013.