54 40 sets mellow mood at Southminster United Church


Vancouver based classic rock band 54 40 looked right at home, though playing outside of their usual element of crowded bars and clubs, during an intimate all acoustic show at the Southminster United Church for  the Geomatic Attic, Feb. 2.

54 40’s Neil Osborne tells a story about opening for the Rolling Stones. photo by Richard Amery
 The band set the mood for an intimate evening of stories and songs and created an entire entertainment experience beginning with a video montage of a variety of Canadian entertainment luminaries welcoming 54 40 to the stage including members of  the Tragically Hip, the Headstones’ Hugh Dillon, Rick Mercer, Brent Butt and even frontman Neil Osborne’s daughter cracking up as she called her dad a loser, and again as she played “I Go Blind” prefacing it by saying how much she loves Hootie and the Blowfish, who covered it in the mid ’90s.

The band was sharply dressed in natty suits and ties and looked ready to play an nice mellow evening of music well suited for a church.
 I’ve seen 54 40 many times and have never seen frontman Neil Osborne in such a loquacious mood as he was on this Tuesday.

He and multi-instrumentalist David Genn blowing melodeon started the show with a quiet version of “ One  Day In Your Life.” Bandmates bassist Brad Merritt and drummer Matt Johnson joined them for a revamped hit filled set of songs and stories, most of them coming from their new acoustic CD “ La Difference: A History Unplugged.”

Osborne smiled and told stories about songs and some of the band’s more memorable  experiences like opening for the Rolling Stones at the Calgary  Saddledome and hanging out with The Stones’ guitarist Ronnie Wood the night before in Banff. The self deprecating Osborne laughed the band played a 45 minute set for fans very familiar with their music and joked that he wouldn’t have been able to talk for 10 minutes opening for the Stones as he was able to for this show.

His stories ranged from heart-wrenching to hilarious including the Rolling Stones story and a sad first set closing story abut his dad dying of cancer, which inspired  a reworked, sombre acoustic version of “Crossing a Canyon.” He talked briefly about Buddhism.

They also gave the receptive audience of a couple hundred people a taste of a new CD which is two thirds completed to be called “Future History.” “Waiting” was a highlight of those as was “100 Songs,” which Osborne prefaced with a story about setting a five year goal in Thunder Bay including writing 100 songs for which Genn brought out a banjo.

One of their biggest hits “She Lies To Me” was a highlight as was a gorgeous version of “One Gun,” performed beautifully by Osborne on a 12 string guitar as the rhythm section took a brief break  to let Osborne sing one of the band’s oldest and most beloved hits.
Genn sat down at the piano to play a couple of songs to wind down the first set.

— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 10 February 2016 13:28 )