Born Ruffians - Approved Photo 2015
Born Ruffians - Approved Photo 2015

Born Ruffians @ The Imperial – November 21st 2015

I can’t count the number of times that Born Ruffians has come to Vancouver with me managing to miss them every time.  Whether I’m out of town, there’s an exam the next day, or another show going on that night, I always seemed to narrowly miss seeing them play.

So it made sense that I’d made it out to the show late and miss the first couple songs of their set.  Unfortunately I missed out on Young Rival as well but having listened to a bit of them online, they seemed to have a sound that fit the bill.  From the look of their past few sets, the odds say that I probably missed out on ‘Kurt Vonnegut’ (Red, Yellow & Blue), and ‘Ocean’s Deep’ (Birthmarks), which is really unfortunate because both are great songs that are favourites off their respective albums.  The first song I caught was one that I’d never heard before: ‘Oh, Cecilia’,  only available on the deluxe edition of Birthmarks.  It’s kind of unfortunate that the song wasn’t more widely promoted because the slow, sultry song that retained the sound of the core Born Ruffians with the more electronic sounds of Birthmarks really made for a great example of where the band was at that time.  ‘Stupid Dream’ is the first song I’d heard from the new album Ruff and it felt like the band was on the same path set out by Birthmarks with some more distortion and effects in use.  While that wasn’t a bad thing, a return to the sound of ‘Badonkadonkey’ (Red, Yellow & Blue) is easily my preference.

I’m a pretty big fan of some of the tracks from Say It and Birthmarks but it’s really the sounds of the Red, Yellow & Blue that caught my attention in the first place.  Things also seemed to come together better with this song as apparently there were some technical issues that got solved and Mitch Derosier had managed to break a string on his bass that I don’t think got resolved (unless there was a bass switch I missed).  So things went back to Ruff as Luke LaLonde switched up to an acoustic guitar as he sang the song ‘Eat Shit (We Did It)’ which comes off as a shallow poppy song that’s catchy but there’s not an awful lot to it, and then ‘When Things Get Pointless I Roll Away’ which has more substance but still doesn’t stick to me like songs from previous albums. ‘& On & On & On’ is another song from Ruff and while it was also kind of repetitive, it did sound a bit more like Born Ruffians than some of the rest of the new album.

Things popped back into gear for me with ‘Retard Canard’, one of my favourites off of Say It and ‘Little Garcon’, the song that is probably my favourite off Red, Yellow & Blue’.  These songs were some that I’d been really looking forward to hearing live each time I missed the band as they passed through Vancouver and they didn’t disappoint.  More of Ruff showed up as ‘Don’t Live Up’, which is probably my favourite that I’d heard from the newest album, and ‘Let Me Get It Out’ which was another experiment in the different kinds of sounds the band used.  From there, the band ended with ‘I Need A Life’ (Red, Yellow & Blue), always a crowd pleaser, I’m sure, and the last song they played from Ruff, ‘We Made It’, and we certainly had.

For the encore, ‘Foxes Mate For Life’ garnered plenty of cheers and applause, deserving every bit of it as they killed a song that held a snug place in my heart.  For the finale, the rest of the band left the stage, other than Derosier, who hung out on stage drinking and checking his phone, and LaLonde, who did his own, slower, acoustic version of ‘Hummingbird’ from Red, Yellow & Blue.  The song was an excellent closer, as any solo acoustic song seems to be, and the remaining members of the band left the stage.

Overall, Born Ruffians was worth the wait, though I wish I had missed out on a couple songs from the new album rather than a couple of my favourite from previous albums (at least in theory).  Though I didn’t enjoy the songs from Ruff as much as the rest, it was all still great once the band had tightened up after the first few songs.  I’d love to see them play again and catch what I missed and hopefully hear more tracks from Ruff in a live setting but in the meantime if you’re like me and missed Born Ruffians the last seven or so times, don’t miss out on this tour because they’ve got a pretty solid setlist going.

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