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Barenaked Ladies give audience music, mirth and high-energy fun

Synchronized guitar swinging. Dance moves that could put Michael Flatley to shame. Let's not forget the improvisational ditty about North Tonawanda and Cheektowaga.

Not every band can make a live show a party. The Barenaked Ladies aren't exactly an ordinary band.

Known for their ability to entertain fans with not only their music but their onstage antics, the Ladies and their shows have a reputation for bringing the fun to their fans.

Saturday night was no exception, as they brought that live show energy to Artpark in Lewiston and played as part of the WNED Buffalo Niagara Guitar Festival.

Between the recent release of "Barenaked Ladies are Men," and their 2006 CD, "Barenaked Ladies are Me," the band could have easily based its entire show on new material. Instead, they treated fans to a mixture of a few relatively new tracks and a lot of old Barenaked favorites.

Toronto natives The Hundreds and Thousands opened the show with guitar riffs, drum solos, and a genuine appreciation and excitement to share the stage with the Ladies. Smiling through much of their set, the band seemed to enjoy playing to the crowd.

That band camaraderie was only taken to a higher level as the Ladies took the stage.

The headliners had the crowd on its feet from the opening lines of their hit "One Week," and kept the energy and the songs flowing with another BNL classic, "Old Apartment."

Paying special attention to the lawn audience, the band members pondered who to antagonize: neighbors Cheektowaga or North Tonawanda. After settling on both, they launched into a side-splitting improv, taking turns taking shots at those municipalities -- and themselves.

Although the show included many other fan favorites -- like "Everything is New Again," "Never is Enough," and the popular, accordion-driven "Straw Hat and Old Dirty Hank" -- the songs were actually secondary to the band's stage presence.

The entertainment band members provided wasn't just found in the planned set list of songs; instead it was discovered in the spontaneous stories told about crummy jobs, the awkward high kicks and the quest to figure out what to do with the flying panties that made their way onstage.

By the sounds of the applause, it was clear that this was what the fans came for -- this weird atmosphere, where sing-alongs were welcomed, funky interpretative dance moves were invited and the guys onstage were simply big kids living out a dream.

By the end of the concert, fans got what they came for -- a night of songs, but more importantly, an entertaining night full of pure Barenakedness.

e-mail: mhirschbeck@buffnews.com

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