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Live Review: Simple Plan in Tempe, AZ
French-Canadian pop/rock band Simple Plan made it clear right off the bat Friday (11/18) that it's a cut above the norm for bands of its genre.
As mock emergency hazard tones blared through Tempe, AZ's Marquee Theatre and searchlights scanned the venue, lead singer Pierre Bouvier hit the stage, immediately jumping on a monitor and striking a Jesus Christ pose--much to the pleasure of the young audience. Bouvier led the band--guitarist Jeff Stinco, bassist David Desrosiers, guitarist Sebastien Lefebvre and drummer Chuck Comeau--into a raucous take on its hit "Shut Up!"
The show, a free gig for Alltel wireless subscribers, was played to a half-empty venue, but the enthusiastic crowd jumped right into the mix when Bouvier pointed his microphone at the audience to encourage fans to sing the chorus. This show didn't attract the curious; it brought in diehard fans who knew the words to nearly every song. Kids young enough to hear Simple Plan on Radio Disney, swayed to the music with their glowing Alltel pendants on necklaces around their necks.
Like Bouvier, the rest of Simple Plan used the monitors for effect: Desrosiers jumped onto a monitor for "Me Against the World, and, in a KISS-like move, Stinco, Desrosiers, Lefebvre and Bouvier--with his Flying V guitar--stood atop monitors in a choreographed fashion to create a vibe for "Crazy."
While monitors lined the front of the stage, red Mesa amps created a wall behind the band. Wearing wristbands, similar to ones sold at the souvenir stand, Bouvier engaged the crowd in a round of clapping for "Crazy." At the same time, Desrosiers held his bass in the air in pure metal fashion.
They continued to show their love by singing along to "Welcome to My Life," which, along with "Untitled," is one of the band's biggest hits on video television.
"I promise this song is for all the ladies, but tonight it's going out to all the guys because we're taking care of your ladies," Bouvier said cheekily about "Promise." "Raise your hands and ease your minds because we're all friends tonight."
Some of the on-stage banter seemed to go over the youngsters' heads. Before "Perfect World," Desrosiers asked, "So, do you guys feel special tonight? I feel special tonight. I can't talk for you guys. I used to ride the special bus. Do you want to hear a special song?"
Midway through "Perfect World," Bouvier let loose an impromptu rap about Arizona and Tempe, the home to Arizona State University.
The vibe continued with a rock cover of Snoop Dogg and Pharrell Williams' "Drop It Like It's Hot" segueing into 50 Cent's "P.I.M.P."
"That's about as hip-hop as we're going to get," Desrosiers said. "You know what I'm talking about, yo?"
Comeau started a small melee in the crowd when he jumped off stage and offered to sign autographs for and take pictures with members of the audience. The rest of Simple Plan invited ticketholders to skank onstage to "Just a Kid" as Desrosiers played drums.
"Untitled," the dramatic video for which tackles the issue of drunken driving, was the highlight of the night. Bouvier, accompanied by an electric guitar, bass and acoustic guitar, began the song on a quiet note before the full band turned it into a metal ballad during the chorus. It ended, of course, with four members atop the monitors.
Returning to the stage for the encore of "Darkness," "I'd Do Anything" and "Perfect," Bouvier revealed that the band is going to write and record a new album after the tour and hit the road again in the middle of next year.
With its anthemic feel, "Perfect" was the ideal way to end the 90-minute show. It strung together the best aspects of Simple Plan: deft musicianship, moving lyrics and a fun stage show.
The Worst Day Ever
Me Against the World
God Must Hate Me
Welcome to My Life
Drop It Like It's Hot/P.I.M.P.
I'm Just a Kid
I'd Do Anything