When the Barenaked Ladies took the stage at DTE Energy Music Theatre on August 25, it was under the shadow of THE lady, warming up for her Sunday night HBO concert at the Palace with a similarly sold-out show the night before.

Paul Wong
Ed Robinson sings his heart out during “”Pinch Me””<br><br>LISA RAJT/Daily

In typical BNL fashion, a comedic touch not only saved the day for the packed amphitheater, but made it.

“Madonna”s not going to play “Like a Virgin” tonight,” guitarist Ed Robinson said, “but we will!”

True to their collective intuition of local custom, BNL constantly quipped about the newly renamed venue, drawing cheers from a crowd still wistful for the old “Pine Knob” moniker.

“DTE,” said vocalist Stephen Paige, “that sounds like some kind of disease.”

The quintet threw themselves into a slow-tempo “Straw Hat and Dirty Old Hank” to start the show, immediately following with the radio-friendly “Pinch Me.”

Two presumably female fans threw their panties up onstage in the middle of the second song, a move no doubt premeditated for weeks. Robinson and Paige made the most of the girls” big moment, hanging the bright orange and green things from their guitars.

After a juiced “Old Apartment,” BNL went through a string of newer songs, including “Never Do Anything,” “Falling for the First Time,” “I Live with it Everyday” and “Light Up My Room.”

The group then flew back into radio land, with “Too Little, Too Late” and “Alcohol,” during which a retina-burning “BNL” prop unfolded from the ceiling. How rock can you get?

After audience favorite “One Week” and the soulful “Get in Line,” Paige took to blowing out “Break your Heart.” The center of the pavilion seating resembled a matted-down cornfield at this point, with the dominant boomer sect just too plum tuckered out to match Paige”s vigor. It would be a true waste of BNL”s youthful exuberance if, in a few years, walkers and medication nurses sidled up alongside these rich, aging rock fans in the pavilion. Long live the lawn.

Predictably, the placid rose back up for “If I Had $1,000,000.” How BNL maintains their zeal for this eternal audience favorite is a secret to behold. Much to their relief, nary a box of macaroni flew onstage at the song”s pivotal, “Kraft dinner” climax.

BNL left the stage after a hilarious medley including Biz Markie”s “Just a Friend,” the irrepressible “Bootylicious” and ho” anthem “Lady Marmalade.” They returned for their first encore with “It”s All Been Done,” followed by “The Night I Fell Asleep at the Wheel.”

In Encore No. 2, BNL brought opening act Charlie and Craig Reid of The Proclaimers out to perform a song from their new album, “Persevere.” It was a kind nudge from BNL to the twin brothers the Scottish duo have had a tough go of it in the states since their “Benny and Joon” days.

BNL finished up with an all-out rendition of “Brian Wilson,” with drummer Tyler Stewart nearly falling off his chair at the song”s conclusion, ala Keith Moon. House rules then brought the lights up, much to the dismay of the reinvigorated audience.

Love “em or hate “em, no band possesses the Barenaked Ladies” blend of musical expertise, wealthy song repertoire and nerdy-smug humor. Another classic effort, albeit in the backdrop of an icon”s homecoming, poses the question: Has there ever been a bad Barenaked Ladies show?

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *