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Barenaked Ladies to party like it’s the ‘Last Summer on Earth’

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STORY WRITTEN BY BRIAN BINGMAN
bbingaman@21st-centurymedia.com
@brianbingaman on Twitter

Barenaked Ladies’ 2012 tour, titled “Last Summer on Earth,” was a nod to the conclusion of the ancient Mayan calendar, which some took to be a doomsday prophecy.

“Clearly the Mayans were wrong — the world did not end in 2012,” said Barenaked Ladies drummer, Tyler Stewart, noting that this is the fourth installment of the band’s Last Summer on Earth “mini-festival” tour, which puts the whimsical Canadian band on the road with artists like Guster, Ben Folds, Colin Hay and Violent Femmes.

“We’ve managed to tour with a lot of our heroes,” he said.

The band Barenaked Ladies in concert.

The band Barenaked Ladies in concert.

This year, BNL will take the stage at the Mann on June 18, along with Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark and Howard Jones. “Those songs are timeless,” Stewart said of the ‘80s output of his tourmates. “OMD has 15 mega-hits (in America, the biggest out of their four top 40 hits was “If You Leave”). It’s so great to hear these songs every night.”

The dialog with Howard Jones began after Stewart saw him perform at a club near his house in Toronto.

Giving a phone interview on the first date of the tour in Minneapolis, Stewart noted the wrinkle of the synthesizer-forward instrumentation, with electronic drums, of Jones and OMD. “I was talking with Howard Jones’ drummer. He’s got these neon green cymbals,” he said.

Together for 25 years now, BNL feels a special affinity with artists like Hay and Jones, who continue to write new music even though audiences gravitate to their old hits. “Even though we’re not at the top of the charts, it doesn’t mean we’re not making good music,” said Stewart.

A new live album, “BNL Rocks Red Rocks,” was recorded at the fabled Morrison, Colo., amphitheater during 2015’s Last Summer on Earth tour. The set includes the hyperactive 1998 No. 1 smash “One Week,” a rendition of Men at Work’s “Who Can It Be Now?” with Hay on lead vocals and Violent Femmes saxophonist Blaise Garza, an out-of-the-blue cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Rock and Roll,” the iTunes chart hit “Odds Are,” and “History of Everything” — better known as the theme song from the TV show “The Big Bang Theory” (The show’s creators, Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady, are BNL fans).

“My children really appreciate it. They’ll be able to go to college, I think,” Stewart said of “Big Bang Theory’s” syndication across several channels.

The band Barenaked Ladies in concert.

The band Barenaked Ladies in concert.

Red Rocks has been a coveted place to perform, Stewart said, ever since U2’s dramatic 1983 performance of “Sunday Bloody Sunday” from the concert film “Under a Blood Red Sky.”

“It’s a special venue. People bring their A-game when they play there,” he said.

The album also features the fan favorite “Brian Wilson,” which makes references to the life and career of the enigmatic Beach Boys founder.

“Brian’s definitely out there. As he was leaving, he said to us: ‘You’re making great music, fellas, and don’t eat too much,’” Stewart laughed, recalling the time the band met with Wilson. “I think he got (the song) when he covered it.

I also think he got the darker ennui that lingers in our music.”

When asked if the Philly audience would see a cameo collaboration like “Who Can It Be Now?” Stewart said to look for BNL and Jones to perform together on a song.

VIP meet-and-greet packages are available and every ticket purchased will come with a digital copy of “BNL Rocks Red Rocks.”

IF YOU GO

What: Barenaked Ladies, with special guests OMD and Howard Jones.
When: 7 p.m. June 18.
Where: Mann Center for the Performing Arts, 5201 Parkside Ave., Philadelphia.
Tickets: $29.50-$72.50.
Info.: Visit www.manncenter.org or call (800) 745-3000.

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