DETROIT — When a band name-checks Jack Kerouac and writes an entire album based on the works of author Ray Kurzweil, the last thing most of its fans would expect is a dissertation on professional wrestling.
That’s what Our Lady Peace’s fans received during the opening night of the band’s tour Wednesday at the State Theatre.
“So, we have this friend of ours. He’s a tough motherf—er. He spends most of his days in the gym, working out, working out on every muscle, working on his brain,” lead singer Raine Maida told the 3,000-capacity crowd.
“At night, he might live in a cage or in a ring this size. He’s not your average wrestler. He has some serious skills and he’s a true wrestler, not like these pretty boys. He’s the real deal.”
The quintet, including a touring guitarist/keyboardist, blasted into Chris Benoit’s World Wrestling Entertainment theme song, “Whatever,” in the middle of the two-hour set.
Our Lady Peace could have played anything and the fans would have accepted it, even though OLP took the stage more than 90 minutes late. Dubbed “an evening with,” which translates to “no opener,” with a 7:30 p.m. showtime, the Canadian band hit the stage close to 9 p.m.
But it was a dramatic entry for Our Lady Peace, who arrived onstage in darkness, save blinking lights on the soundboard. The opening song, “All for You,” began with an explosion of bright white lights that lit the band from behind.
The lights rarely focused on the band and instead beamed parallel to the stage, behind the group, portraying the musicians as giant silhouettes on the ornate walls. It offered a nightclub feel, where Our Lady Peace were almost the background. In a rare moment, spotlights cascaded on the band during “Right Behind You (Mafia).”
Overhead lights brightened the main floor as fans drowned Maida in his own choruses in songs like “Superman’s Dead” or the anthemic “Innocent.” The crowd punched their collective fists in the air during “Innocent” as if the chorus was a war cry and waved their arms during “Clumsy,” in which Maida sings, “I’ll be waving my hand watching you drown/ Watching you scream/ Quiet or loud.”
Each time Maida tried to speak, the rabid audience’s deafening screams overthrew the singer, who is married to pianist/chanteuse Chantal Kreviazuk. He smiled as he waited for the noise to die down, and midway through “Superman’s Dead,” he stopped and addressed the crowd.
“We did that festival in the summer and the same amount of people showed up,” Maida said about the 89X (CIMX-FM) Birthday Bash in Pontiac, Michigan, on June 1. “You sang your hearts, souls and asses off. Detroit, we know you got it in you, so let’s tear the roof off this place.”
He returned to “Superman’s Dead,” leading the audience in an a cappella sing-along of the line, “Doesn’t anybody ever know?” Maida responded, “That sounded so good, let’s do it again.” After the second time, the State Theatre was aglow as Our Lady Peace forcefully returned to the music.
While climbing on the base of one of the knight sculptures which bookend the stage, Maida teased the audience during the hit “Starseed” by reaching down into the crowd and pulling his hand back quickly before anyone could touch him.
Parking lots surrounding the State Theatre — in Detroit’s theater district — were peppered with license plates from Ontario, just across the Detroit River. Several fans shook Canadian flags at Our Lady Peace as the main floor moved forward and back, like waves of an ocean.
It was a sort of homecoming for new guitarist Steve Mazur, a native of Port Huron, Michigan, more than an hour north of Detroit.
“All I have to say is, we all know that this is Steve’s hometown,” Maida said. “But Detroit, man, the way you guys are making us feel, we all feel like we’re from Detroit. Thank you very much.”
For more sights and stories from concerts around the country, check out MTV News Tour Reports.