Air Canada Centre, Toronto, March 12, 2012

Jane Stevenson, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:19 PM ET

OK, so maybe Hedley weren’t exactly Invincible – also the name of the big hit song off their 2011 album, Storms – at the Air Canada Centre on Tuesday night in front of some 6,500 fans.

But they were a lot more tolerable than the last time I caught the Vancouver pop-punk foursome at the ACC two years ago.

Not only have their screaming female fans grown up enough so that you can actually hear the band, led by one-time Canadian Idol contestant Jacob Hoggard, but the group itself is getting, dare I say it? More mature.

The normally hyper Hoggard even sat himself down behind a red piano early in the proceedings to sing the sweet-sounding ballad, Heaven’s Gonna Wait, and the stillness suited him.

I think ballads are definitely his strong suit as the other standouts of the night, I Won’t Let You Go, and the anthemic, sing-along-friendly Perfect, both during the encore, more than proved.

Hoggard, decked out in a black leather jacket and black skinny tie (which he would later ditch and replace with a sleeveless black leather vest), also gets points for inserting David Bowie’s classic, Space Oddity into Hands Up –not that many of those in the crowd noticed.

Or maybe they did?

Playing on an empty looking stage - apparently to make way for the goofy lifeboat that would arrive later in the show as the group sat in it and sang two other highlights –stripped-down versions of All You Get is Sound and Beautiful –Hedley also had three ramps leading out into the crowd so they could get closer to their appreciative audience.

At one point, towards the end of the encore, Hoggard even raced onto the floor and hugged fans, gave them noogies, and made them sing during Cha-Ching.

The frontman, joined by bassist Tommy Mac, lead guitarist Dave Rosin and drummer Chris Crippin, was certainly the focal point of the evening, no more than when a solo spotlight shone on him during Hands Up -- even if the evening opened with a video showing the four members, each identified by their first names, washing ashore before making their way to Toronto.

Their album is called Storms in case you forgot.

And later during Stormy, white steam blasted out of their stage, to make the point yet again.

It was all a bit much but the crowd seemed to eat it up, especially later in the show, when Hoggard came out on one of the ramps, waving a Hedley flag over his head, then started throwing T-Shirts into the audience while the band played covers of Eye Of The Tiger and Beat It.

In two weeks time, Hedley will be up for four Junos in Ottawa –along with other quadruple nominees City & Colour, Dan Mangan, Drake, Feist, and Nickelback. They are in the running for Single of the Year for Invincible and will perform on the show that will be televised live on CTV on April 1.

As for Hedley’s delivery of Invincible in a live setting, it’s not my favourite song, but it was improved by the addition of opener Classified’s rapping, while Hoggard jumped up on his piano.

 


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