Reviews of Attainable Hi-Fi & Home-Theater Equipment

Reviews of Attainable Hi-Fi & Home-Theater Equipment

  • SoundStage! InSight - Audio Research Reference 160M Amplifier (February 2019)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Livio Cucuzza on Audio Research's Industrial Design (November 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Audio Research Past, Present, and Future (October 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - KEF's New R Series for 2018 (September 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Simaudio Moon 390 Digital/Analog Preamplifier and Streamer (September 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - EISA 2018-2019 Awards Introduction (August 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Simaudio's $118,888 Moon 888 Mono Amplifiers (June 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Totem's Tribe Tower (May 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Amphion's Three Newest Argon Loudspeakers (April 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Making the Hegel Mohican CD Player (March 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Estelon Lynx Wireless Intelligent Loudspeaker (March 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - McIntosh's Five New Solid-State Integrated Amplifiers (January 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Amphion's Krypton Loudspeaker (January 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Anthem STR Preamplifier and Power Amplifier (December 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - McIntosh Laboratory MA252 Integrated Amplifier (November 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Hegel H90 and H190 Integrated Amplifiers (October 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - How Hegel's SoundEngine Works (October 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight  - Estelon History and YB and Extreme Loudspeakers (September 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - What Makes Hegel Different? (August 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Estelon Extreme Legacy Edition Loudspeaker (July 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Amphion Overview and Technologies (July 2017)
  • SoundStage! Insight - Totem Acoustic Signature One Loudspeaker (June 2017)
  • SoundStage! Encore - The Cowboy Junkies'
  • SoundStage! Shorts -- Anthem's STR Integrated Amplifier (May 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts -- Paradigm's Perforated Phase Alignment (PPA) Lenses (March 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- Paradigm's Persona 9H Loudspeaker (March 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- Contrasts: Dynaudio's Contour and Focus XD Speaker Lines (February 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - New Technologies in MartinLogan's Masterpiece Series
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Dynaudio/Volkswagen Car Audio (December 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Gryphon Philosophy and the Kodo and Mojo S Speakers (January 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts -- What's a Tonmeister? (November 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - AxiomAir N3 Wireless Speaker System (December 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Bang & Olufsen BeoLab 90 (November 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Gryphon Diablo 120 Integrated Amplifier (October 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Dynaudio History and Driver Technology (October 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - The Story How Gryphon Began (September 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Devialet History, ADH Technology, and Expert 1000 Pro (September 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Devialet's Phantom Loudspeakers (August 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - McIntosh Home Theater and Streaming Audio (July 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - McIntosh MC275 Stereo Amplifier (June 2016)

Warner Music Canada 2-052349
Format: CD

Musical Performance

Sound Quality

Overall Enjoyment

Blue Rodeo has been around for 30 years now, and while a large US audience seems to elude them, they’re enormously popular in their native Canada. Their command of folk, country, and rock is so acute that US fans of alt-country should have flocked to them. But in the end, all that matters is that this band has an extensive catalog of great music and a reputation as a potent live act.

Live at Massey Hall, the group’s fourth live album, documents a 2014 appearance at the venerable Toronto concert venue -- part of a tour supporting Blue Rodeo’s 13th studio album, In Our Nature, released the previous year. Roughly half the songs come from that disc; the rest go back to earlier records. Indeed, track 2, “Rose Coloured Glasses,” is from the band’s very first album, Outskirts (1987). Co-leader Greg Keelor’s voice has aged well, and his years of singing give his performance more emotional depth. The band plays with a slightly harder edge than on the original recording, and it gives the song more grit. Jim Cuddy sings “Head Over Heels” in a spirited reading that feels rootsier and digs deeper than the original studio version on Five Days in July (1994).

Live at Massey Hall

Lead guitarist Colin Cripps tears into the opening of “Disappear,” from Tremolo (1997), on which the entire band rocks hard behind Keelor’s singing. Drummer Glenn Milchem plays fluidly while hitting his drums hard, and Mike Boguski’s piano feature a little more than halfway through the song builds before the powerful return of the rest of the band.

Nothing from In Our Nature appears until track 5, but “New Morning Sun” then flows easily with the rest of the tunes. Blue Rodeo manages to sound fresh in a style they’ve been working in for a long time. They sometimes emphasize rock, as in “Disappear,” but their approach to country in “New Morning Sun” is often modern, yet more heartfelt and real, than a lot of what I hear coming out of Nashville.

“Tara’s Blues,” also from In Our Nature, is a more traditional country song with a beautifully rendered pedal-steel line from Bob Egan. Cuddy harmonizes easily and movingly with Keelor’s lead vocal, and the band is so precise and unobtrusive that it takes a moment to realize how brilliantly they’re playing. The title track of Diamond Mine (1989) is tougher and looser here than the original, and includes a lengthy instrumental section that lets the players show off. On the evidence of this CD, Blue Rodeo is rocking harder and better than ever, even as they’ve deepened their feel for country music.

Blue Rodeo at Massey Hall

One of the pleasures of Live at Massey Hall is the opportunity it offers to hear a band passionate about its music and still at the top of its game. Cuddy and Keelor continue to write songs that are vital and melodically engaging, while finding new things in songs they’ve played for years. I would have preferred more bottom-end clarity in the recording -- the bass guitar sometimes sounds hazy, and the kick drum often doesn’t register -- but it does capture some of the ambience of Massey Hall.

I’ve enjoyed a few of Blue Rodeo’s studio recordings over the years -- Live at Massey Hall makes me want to catch them in concert. There’s a vinyl version available, and I’m eager to pick up a copy.

. . . Joseph Taylor