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Gen Xers rejoice as sounds of ‘90s alt-rock invade downtown Cleveland (Photos)

The Plain Dealer  Cleveland logo The Plain Dealer Cleveland 7/3/2022 Troy L. Smith, cleveland.com

CLEVELAND, Ohio – Call the babysitter. Page your friends. Crack open a Miller Genuine Draft, hop in your Toyota Camry and head down to Jacobs Pavilion at Nautica. The sounds of the 1990s were alive and well Saturday night with Barenaked Ladies, Gin Blossoms and Toad the Wet Sprocket performing as part of the “Last Summer on Earth Tour 2022.”

As Gin Blossoms lead singer Robin Wilson pointed out, the tour was “three years in the making” due to the coronavirus pandemic. Though it felt like 30 years in the making given that 1992 was the year Barenaked Ladies released its debut album, Gin Blossoms’ breakthrough effort “New Miserable Experience” arrived and Toad the Wet Sprocket’s “All I Want” reached the top 20 on the mainstream charts.

There was something for everyone Saturday, assuming “everyone” is a ‘90s alternative rock fan. Barenaked Ladies served as the night’s headliner, made clear by a setlist featuring 20-plus songs. But the show felt more like a packaged deal.

Jacobs Pavilion at Nautica was 75% full when Toad the Wet Sprocket took the stage, kicking things off with “Come Down” before drawing the night’s first big reaction with “Good Intentions,” featured on 1995′s “Friends Original TV Soundtrack.”

Lead-singer Glen Phillips – barefoot as always – brought the charm and his bandmates brought the musicianship, squeezing in a solid rendition of the 2021 song “Transient Whales” and a stellar cover of “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding.”

Of course, at a show like this, it’s about the hits and Toad didn’t disappoint. “All I Want” delivered the first crowd singalong of the night, while the hard-rocking “Fall Down” served as the centerpiece of a closing stretch capped by the fan-favorite “Walk on the Ocean.” If it were dark outside, lighters (meaning cellphones) would have surely come out.

Saturday’s show was a matter of preference. But there’s no doubt Gin Blossoms put forth the most concise and thrilling set of the night. Wilson arrived on stage with a drink in one hand and a tambourine in the other. He made everything that came after look easy.

The band didn’t waste any time jumping into its hits, blazing through opener “Follow You Down.” “We are here in this great theatre to chew bubble gum and kick a**, and we’re about all out of bubblegum,” Wilson quipped.

Corny? Yes. Fitting for the night’s vibes? For sure.

Gin Blossoms played just nine songs. But seven of them were hits. “Found Out About You” brought the packed crowd at Jacobs Pavilion to its feet for the first time, leading directly into the sounds of “Hey Jealousy.” It’s hard to beat Gin Blossom’s closing stretch, which featured the band’s four biggest songs (and four of the bigger alt-rock anthems of the 1990s) culminating with “Til I Hear It from You.”

A half-hour later, the sun had set and Barenaked Ladies took the stage doing what BNL does best – charming the pants off fans that have stuck by the band’s side for three decades.

To some extent, Barenaked Ladies’ laid-back style slowed some of the momentum built by Gin Blossoms. But the sounds of “It’s All Been Done” and “Pinch Me” kept things at a 10. Yes, the line “I just made you say ‘underwear’” still hits, as a member of the audience through their bra on stage, which ended up hanging from the end of Jim Creegan’s bass.

In true headliner fashion, BNL threw in several album cuts that surely appeased diehards. Perhaps, it lasted a bit too long – 90-plus minutes seems like a bit much for a band like Barenaked Ladies. But frontman Ed Robertson kept things flowing with his engaging banter. Some of it was heartfelt while other moments were downright hilarious, like when Robertson told the story of friends picking him up from rehearsal and taking him to a sketchy parking lot in Parma (It wound up being a bowling alley).

And Barenaked Ladies was wise to spread out its biggest tunes, leaving fun renditions of songs like “Brian Wilson,” “One Week” and “If I Had a Million Dollars” towards the end of the set. One of the bigger roars from the crowd came during the band’s performance of the theme song from “The Big Bang Theory,” which kept Barenaked Ladies alive in mainstream pop culture during the 2010s.

But Saturday’s showcase was a true nostalgia trip where elder Millennials and Gen-Xers could rejoice in the sound of their youth, void of the trendy catchphrases on social media reactions the kids are using these days. As one fan shouted at the end of one Gin Blossoms song, “That was super-enjoyable. I loved it.” How appropriate.

©2022 Advance Local Media LLC. Visit cleveland.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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