Sticking to status quo provides for dull concert

review of live show at Le Rendez-Vous, Winnipeg, July 8, 1990

by Bohdan Gembarsky, Winnipeg Free Press, July 10, 1990

To say The Pursuit of Happiness is well-liked by its audience understates the group's popularity - never mind slighting the considerable potential it has to become one of the best rock bands to come out of Canada in a long time.

The songs are hard-driving, yet melodic - perfect for rock radio. Leader Moe Berg's observances of life are as hilarious as they are anguished. And Berg and company have worked their behinds off despite the praise heaped upon them on both sides of the border - and the sudden departure of two of their members - to achieve a level of recognition most bands would give their eyeteeth for.

But TPOH, as evidenced by the 85-minute show at Le Rendez-Vous Sunday night, may be falling into a rut - that of inheriting the mantle of "the best rock band to come out of Canada in a long time" and becoming increasingly unwilling to do anything that might scuttle that status.

One example: the band brazenly lip-synched their next video, New Language, in front of the near- sellout crowd of 700 instead of playing it live. Berg, feeling bad about the showbizzy display, took pains to let the audience know that he didn't feel right about it - even playing a live reprise later in the set.

Funny thing, though - note for note, it sounded exactly the same as the video. And that illustrates the crossroads TPOH has come to in its career.

You can't go home again, and Thomas Hardy's declaration kept ringing throughout the set, as the Toronto-based band showed how dull things can get when the status quo is rigidly maintained.

Songs such as Two Girls In One, Hard To Laugh, She's So Young and others only outlined the inflexibility of their presentation. They might as well have mouthed the whole performance for the amount of innovation injected into the tunes.

Sure, most of Berg's writing is riddled with angst and all are spiced with great hooks, epitomized by their surprise first hit, I'm An Adult Now - a brilliant notebook on the theme of balancing desire with the responsibility of being accountable for one's actions.

It's by far the band's best song (and band members knew it, featuring it just before the encore) and ironically underlining the idea that fun has been sacrificed for fame.

As if that wasn't enough, someone by the name of Pam came on stage to wipe the band's foreheads, as if members couldn't do it for themselves.

The crowd wasn't shy about showing its appreciation, though. Their zealousness even led to Berg storming off stage at the very end of the encore, after being accidentally bashed in the mouth with his own microphone, due to some overexcited fans who wanted their spot in the spotlight.

Copyright 1990, Winnipeg Free Press

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