There wasn’t much going on the night of Tuesday, August 12th… just a little show at the ‘Dome, and Black Joe Lewis at the Republik.
The opening band for Black Joe Lewis was The Wisers. These proud Calgarians are currently enjoying some radio play thanks to being named “Xposure” winners this year at radio station X929. With songs such as “The Devil’s in the Suburbs” about hockey fights and solid Canadian rock band influences from The Sheepdogs and Sam Roberts in their style, this is a group that is easy to like. The headliner himself was bobbing his head and tapping his fingers in approval as he watched a few songs from among the crowd.
The running joke of the Black Joe Lewis show at the Republik was the reality of the mega show by Arcade Fire going on at the same time just a few blocks away at the Saddledome. It started out earlier in the day on Twitter as fans commented and got retweeted by Black Joe Lewis. There was also a mention from The Wisers about not having to dress in a suit to come to this show. Four songs into his roaring set, Joe Lewis stopped to catch his breath and thank the crowd for coming, saying he was worried there would be no one at his show because of the big show down the street. The crowd laughed and cheered when he said he hoped we were happy with our choice.
Black Joe Lewis brought a definite distinctive southern sound up from Texas to heat up Calgary’s already hot summer night. There was a little funk, a little punk and some Memphis style R &B. Joe Lewis led the group with a red custom made Telecaster in his hand along with players on bass, drums, trumpet, tenor and baritone sax at his side. Black Joe Lewis blazed through groupings of four or five songs before seamlessly changing up the style ever so slightly. They played most of the songs from the newest album, Electric Slave and many from older albums when they went by Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears. Some of the best crowd-pleasing moments of the night were when the influence of Jimi Hendrix shone through. This was most evident in “The Hipster” as Joe Lewis played guitar with his teeth and also behind his head.
It was great to see the horn section having fun throughout the show providing tight background riffs and trading licks in solos. The players faces spontaneously lit up a few times watching the ecstatic dancing going on in the crowd. The energetic moshers at the front got a chance to revel in the encore set as a Stooges cover was done that seemed to have been chosen just for them.
The band ripped through one high energy song after another for almost two hours, pausing only very momentarily on rare occasions for a quick drink. Joe Lewis didn’t even leave the stage with his band members as he was busy high-fiving fans in the front before the encore and he stayed again at the very end to share a few moments with fans.
About two-thirds of the way through the Black Joe Lewis set, quite a few people from the Arcade Fire show joined in the fun at the Republik. When the easy-to-spot sequined dresses, top hats and jackets infiltrated the sea of casual, mostly black t-shirts, it would have been the perfect time for Black Joe Lewis to break out into his stand-out release, “Come to My Party” and put an exclamation point on to the running joke of the evening. I think I’ll just pretend in my mind that it actually happened. At least I’m sure that the latecomers would agree with everyone else in the room that a Black Joe Lewis show is a fantastic way to end an evening out.