It was one of those “you had to be there moments” – and one where I’m fortunate to say, “yes, I was”. It was the Saturday afternoon of what was then supposed to be the last ever Firefest, and a band wandered onto the stage who proved to be not only one of the surprise packages of the weekend, but also one of the highlights. They were Boulevard. Quite honestly, almost everyone in the room thought they were one of those bands who had disappeared off the hard rock radar long since. And, indeed, they had, as, after two albums and clutch of hit singles in their native Canada (although, ironically, they initially were signed to the German arm of CBS!), they had gone on hiatus in 1991, victims of the massive changes which swept through the recording industry at the time… But, all it took was one ‘phone call – and there we were, being carried away on a wave of nostalgia and glorious AOR!
Returning home, so the story goes, the six band members looked at each other and went “Why the hell aren’t we doing this more often?” The answer? Well no-one had one… And so it came about that the band decided to record a live DVD with a difference. They headed into Warehouse Studios in Vancouver, where they played one of the most intimate performances any band could possibly every do, in front of a handpicked audience, each with a set of headphones receiving a perfect audio mix straight from the studio desk.
The result is a stunning record of an up-and-personal once-in-a-lifetime moment, which also showcases a damn fine AOR band who have not mellowed in their maturity but have – just as they did at Firefest – found a renewed fire in their bellies. Although performed and recorded in a studio, and with the audience listening via headphones, this is by no means an antiseptic or stale offering: far from it. It is a performance filled with passion, signifying a band both grateful for, and totally enjoying, the renaissance of interest in both them and their music.
The intimacy of the setting also lends to the quality of the performance: there is absolutely no room for error, as the audience are right in the faces of the band. It’s an environment which could potentially be extremely challenging for many artists, but Boulevard are relaxed and make it look oh so easy… Vocalist David Forbes once again displays the easy banter with which he won over so many at Firefest, while the rest of the band display both an energy and tightness which belies the fact that they’ve spent the majority of the previous quarter of a century trimming their hedges or sipping daiquiris or doing whatever it is semi-retired but re-emergent rock stars do these days…
And, for those of us who were indeed won over by Boulevard’s enthusiastic Nottingham set last October, there is good news: the set ends with the gospel-fused ‘Confirmation’ – a brand new song which indicates that the lighting of the fires in thon there bellies was not a one-off feast…
Dream On / Western Skies / Need You Tonight / Far From Over / Where Are You Now / Missing Persons / Good Enough / Rainy Day In London / Lead Me On / Crazy Life / Never Give Up / Confirmation
‘Live From Gastown’ is out now as a very limited special edition, with 500 copies only available in the USA and Canada in NTSC, and 500 copies only available in Europe in PAL format. It is available exclusively from www.rocktopia.co.uk in Europe and www.boulevardband.com in North American and Canada.