It was hello and goodbye for Hedley last night as the band wrapped up their nationwide Hello Tour at Rogers Arena. With help from opener Carly Rae Jepsen, Jacob Hoggard and the boys gave their Vancouver fans a night they’ll surely remember.
The show was a homecoming of sorts for both acts; Jepsen hails from Mission, B.C. while Hedley formed in Abbotsford in 2003. Since then, Hedley has become one of Canada’s most prolific acts and have earned a huge fan base thanks to their relentless touring and recording.
Lead singer Hoggard was obviously excited for the opportunity to rock his hometown – he shouted “VANCOUVERRR!!!” before and after every song and incorporated our city’s name into as many Hedley songs as possible. It popped up during “Hello”, “Darling”, and a lyric in “Don’t Talk To Strangers” was changed from “just a cougar on the prowl” to “just Vancouver on the prowl”.
It sounds annoying, but it was actually kind of endearing. Hedley is proud to represent Vancity and took several opportunities to thank their fans for their support over the years.
“We are Hedley, and we are so happy to be back on the Blessed Coast,” Hoggard said to huge cheers. “This is our last night on the Canadian tour, and I’m so goddamned happy to finish in our own beautiful hometown.”
The band spent two hours alternating between new material and fan favourites from their decade-long career. I’ll admit that I wasn’t familiar with most of Hedley’s songs – I came out for Carly Rae, and suspect that a lot of other people did too. But Hoggard had the packed arena in the palm of his hand from the minute he took the stage, and didn’t let them go until the final notes of show closer “Anything”.
Hedley sounded great on new songs “Lost In Translation” and “Very First Time” and were keen to plug current single “Lose Control” to the Vancouver crowd. “This song is on the radio right now so if you don’t go home and request it, I’m going to come to your house and I’m going to sleep with your mother,” Hoggard teased. “On second thought, don’t request this song – I’m coming over!”
Later, he joked that he’d met a young fan before the show who asked him to play some of Hedley’s biggest hits. “We said ‘SHUT UP! Shut up, you dummy’. That’s a joke, because we’re gonna play some old Hedley songs for you.”
The boys were not content to play their hits as-is either, and it worked: Hoggard sounded lovely on a piano-version of “For The Nights I Can’t Remember” and performed “Gunnin'” accompanied by a trio of acoustic guitars. The singer might not be easy on the eyes, but his voice is certainly easy on the ears.
Hoggard also threw back to his days of covering top 40 hits on Canadian Idol with a medley that included Major Lazer’s “Lean On” and Justin Bieber’s “Sorry”. This was the fourth time I’ve heard a Justin Bieber song performed live in as many months (Rachel Platten, Arkells, and the Biebs himself have all performed Bieber hits in Vancouver this year), and Hedley’s version of “Sorry” was probably the best of the bunch.
Fans who’ve been keeping up with the Hello Tour were shocked when the rarely-heard “Darlin” made an appearance last night, but less shocking was the moment Hoggard confiscated a girl’s phone after catching her texting during the show. The singer has pulled the same stunt in every city on the tour but scripted or not, the moment is always a huge crowd pleaser.
Tonight’s “victim” was a girl named Tia. Hoggard casually scrolled through her texts and quizzed her about her boyfriend, before calling Tia’s father from the stage. After putting him on speaker, the singer told him that his daughter had been caught drinking at the show. When Tia’s dad asked if his wife was at the concert accompanying his daughter, Hoggard told him that she was busy making out with Hedley bassist Tommy Mac.
Tia’s dad was a good sport and when asked if he wanted to say anything to Hoggard’s captive audience (the bit went on for more than 8 minutes), he told us that he loved his family which definitely earned him some brownie points with the Missus.
Hedley finished with “Kiss You Inside Out” and “Anything” before Hoggard said goodbye to the Hello Tour for good. “It’s a special thing coming back home to Rogers Arena and seeing all these familiar faces,” he said. “I want you to know how lucky we are to have people like you in our lives, Vancouver. And I know what you’re thinking: ‘yeah, he says this every time’ but you’re right, fuckface. I do say it every time because it’s important.
“We’ve been doing this for ten years now as brothers,” he continued. “We’re so lucky – not just to play together every night, but to play for people like you. People like you who believe us, support us, and give us the confidence to be who the people we are, Vancouver. This is our home, we’ll never leave, and we’ll always love you.”
The pairing of Carly Rae Jepsen and Hedley is a headscratcher as the two acts have very little in common besides a stint on CTV’s Canadian Idol (Jepsen competed in the fifth season of the show, while Jacob Hoggard won the whole shebang in second two). Jepsen burst onto the music scene four years ago with her giant anthem “Call Me Maybe” but last year’s criminally-underrated EMOTION went nowhere despite being loaded with radio-friendly hits.
So while her less-talented contemporaries are launching tours crammed with poses, pyrotechnics, and pre-recorded vocals (I’m looking at you, Ms. Fenty), Jepsen was left to fend for herself last night with just a small band and a microphone. No backup singers except for the 6,000-strong crowd, and no backup dancers save for the lucky group of fans she pulled onstage during “I Didn’t Just Come Here to Dance”.
Instead, the singer relied on her massive pipes and her natural charm to win us over, and turned Rogers Arena into a giant dance party for 40 minutes with hits like “Run Away With Me” and “I Really Like You”. Seriously Vancouver, give EMOTION a shot. You’ll really really really really really really like it.
Rising Toronto star Francesco Yates opened the show with songs from his self-titled EP that was co-produced by hitmaker Pharrell Williams. Yates won the prestigious Breakthrough Artist of the Year prize at the 2016 Juno Awards.