Rock generations old and young collide at Bluesfest

Flaming Lips, Supertramp's Roger Hodgson and Metric wow large crowd of 28,000


Two distinct generations of music fans flocked to Cisco Ottawa Bluesfest last night, making it the biggest crowd so far of the festival.

The boomers came to see Supertramp's Roger Hodgson, while their offspring went bonkers over Metric. In all, organizers estimated the audience at 28,000 people.

Of course, at the top of the bill was the Flaming Lips, an alt-rock band that was expected to unite fans of all ages with their homage to a landmark classic-rock album, Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon.

But that's not how they started. The Oklahoma outfit began with a psychedelic interlude of noise and lights that gave frontman Wayne Coyne the time to install himself in a plastic bubble, inflate it and roll out over the first few rows of fans.

Back on stage, he shot confetti cannons and dispersed giant balloons before settling into an actual song, Silver Trembling Hands. At deadline, it looked like it would be a classic demonstration of the Lips' on-stage craziness.

Earlier in the evening, a cheery Hodgson, his hair long, delighted anyone within earshot of the Claridge stage with his friendly banter and familiar songs. His sweet voice was remarkably clear, and he had a top-notch band behind him.

"It doesn't get much better than this," he said, smiling as he looked at the happy faces in the crowd. Armed with an acoustic guitar, the 60-year-old launched his performance with Take The Long Way Home and Give A Little Bit, adding a personal note about how he came to write each song.

Hodgson soon switched to piano to bring to life songs like Breakfast in America, Dreamer and Fool's Overture. On a beautiful evening, Supertramp fans were in heaven.

So were Metric fans. Last night was special for the popular Canadian rockers, partly because it was their first time on the festival's main stage. Metric has played Bluesfest several times over the last five or six years, but never before on the biggest stage.

To mark the occasion, they made it a concert to remember, nipping into Black Sheep and Poster of A Girl to start.

During the third song, the anthemic Help I'm Alive, frontwoman Emily Haines, who's always a livewire, seemed to take it up a notch by grabbing the microphone from its stand and skipping from one end of the stage to the other, a glint in her eye as she surveyed the crowd, which was already well over 20,000.

Her short blond hair was in the way and she had the sun in her face, but you could almost see her soak up the energy of the deliriously excited fans in the front rows.

A petite woman in a shiny blue minidress, Haines was the star of the show, a rock goddess who doesn't exactly fit the mould of either Karen O or Blondie, although she's a little like both of them. She bopped between keyboards, microphone and occasionally guitar, jumping most of the time.

The crisp, 10-song concert included hits like Monster Hospital, Gimme Sympathy, Sick Muse, Dead Disco and the show-closer Stadium Love. Anywhere else, it might have seemed routine. But at Bluesfest, with thousands of people jumping and Haines in overdrive, it was terrific.