The legendary Eric Bourdon provided a classic loaded performance to an appreciative and nostalgic audience at Coquitlam’s Hard Rock Casino. Bourdon, best known as the original vocalis for the classic ‘60s group the Animals, is one of the most iconic musicians of his era. The Animal’s blend of rhythm and blues brought them success alongside the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and the Kinks. Finding fame on s on both sides of the Atlantic, the Animals have left an enduring musical legacy that continues to entice listeners of all ages.
Stepping out in the spacious stage, Eric Bourdon faced the crowd with a poise reminiscent of his classic television performances. Beginning with the classic Animals composition “When I Was Young,” Bourdon played the old tune with a tongue in cheek maturity. With lyrics like, “I met my first love at age 13 / She was brown and I was green” Bourdon lead the predominantly silver haired audience on nostalgia trip. Backed by a sharp, enthusiastic 5 piece band, Bourdon stands in centre stage with focus and determination. White haired and 73 years of age, Bourdon’s enthusiasm for his performance continues to simmer.
Running through respected originals and a few seasoned covers, Bourdon and his band offered a mixture of faithful recreations and playfully expanded arrangements. Crowd favourite “Please Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” included a slowed down vocal intro, eventually was broken by the anthem’s memorable organ melody. Many of the evening’s songs would also include instrumental extensions. While Bourdon’s fame undoubtably stems from his work with the Animals, his work in later years continued to embrace new musical ideas as well as flirtation with the avant garde, such as during his performance at the legendary Monterey Pop Festival in 1967. His supporting musicians included an auxiliary percussionist, who’s added touch made song like “Spill the Wine” by War really tick. Between the Animals, War and his solo project, Bourdon’s back catalogue of work cover a multitude of similar but diverging styles. His current meandering arrangements no doubt make a song’s performance more interesting in their execution after having been performed hundreds or thousands of times before.
One of the evening’s most exciting performances was “Monterey,” a song Bourdon penned after his performance at the famous and influential rock concert. Soulful, funky and reflective, Bourdon’s energy shifted gear as he glided through reminisces of Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and Brian Jones. The singer stated that he never went to another music festival as Monterey could not be equalled.
Nearing the end of his set, Bourdon thanked the audience for their patronage and interest. A moment later, a clean, clear unmistakable arpeggio pierced the evening’s atmosphere and initiated “The House of The Rising Sun.” Starting with a faithful arrangement, Bourdon and company et the song drift through gradually more playful instrumentation. Almost fifty years since its initial release, “The House of The Rising Sun” remains one of the most iconic and notable western musical standards. The musicians barely left the stage before returning for an anticipated encore.
One wonders why Mr. Bourdon would choose the relentless lifestyle of touring, traveling and constant waiting instead of embracing retirement. His performances mark a connection to his immense cultural wake and continue to address his thirst for the blues. His last song, an enthused performance of “Boom, Boom,” included a dedication to “police forces all over North America.” The man still has attitude. Attacking the John Lee Hooker standard with a particularly smooth confidence, Bourdon looked on top of the world.