On the opening night of their North American “Pretty Monsters USA Tour,” Canadian rock duo The Blue Stones took the stage buzzing with adrenaline. Touring in support of their third studio album Pretty Monster, released November 4, 2022, the setlist contained a mixture of songs from across the band’s discography, and of course, plenty of new tracks.
Hailing from Windsor, Ontario, the duo consists of Tarek Jafar (vocals, guitar, bass, keys) and Justin Tessier (percussion, backing vocals). Prior to the pandemic shutdown that canceled their tour and delayed the release of their sophomore album, Hidden Gems, The Blue Stones were quickly garnering impressive momentum both in their home country of Canada and in the States. In early 2020, they were nominated for Breakthrough Group of the Year at the Juno Awards and found their singles charting across North America.
Flash forward three years, The Blue Stones graced the stage for their first ever headline show in Boston. Eagerly awaiting this moment, fans have anticipated the chance to experience some of their favorite songs live, especially early cuts like “Be My Fire,” “Magic,” and “The Hard Part.”
Weaving in and out of disciplines, the pair experiment with blues rock, modern rock, and alternative styles with ease. With a simplistic stage design of four large, triangular lights just along the horizon, the duo were cast in a variation of hues, flashing in time with the music and stimulating the palpable energy in the room. Reflecting over the packed club, the mood was set for an exhilarating night.
Despite the limitations that not having a full band could propose, the two members successfully create a large sound and a steady groove, commendably replicating the polished and spirited sound of their studio recordings. They utilize loop pedals and other technology to help fill in the tracks, including elements of electronic and pop inflections atop their rock foundation. At one point, Tarek’s use of distortion on his guitar to sound like a bass and Justin’s intricate drum patterns both cultivate to add another layer to their dynamic sound.
Newer cut “Stay with Me” proved as one of the most engaging songs of the night, with the crowd loudly singing the reprise of “stay with me” without prompt. With a hard driving force and reverberated vocals, the song translated into a compelling and catchy live tune that should remain a stable on their setlist for shows to come.
Vocally, Tarek flowed in and of rap-rock style vocals on “L.A. Afterlife,” a track that drips with the effortless swagger that they frequently encapsulate. Additional highlights throughout the night included “Grim,” which begins with the distorted audio that the recording utilizes, “Don’t Miss,” (a song the band noted as one of their favorites to play live,) “Spirit,” and “Rolling With the Punches.” High skilled and intuitive performers, Tarek often fed into the crowd’s energy during these roisterous moments, and played it up for fans in the front row who trashed around during wailing guitar solos.
“I’m gonna leave you with a song that is written from a point of trying to find what it is that happiness is. We’ve been looking for it for a very long time. And I think it’s in moments like this where we can all be here,” said Tarek while introducing their 2022 single, “What’s It Take To Be Happy?” as the final song of the set. Dedicating it to a fan in the crowd, Sarah, who was vocally thrilled to hear it live, the song felt wholly uplifting and ceremonious, performed in a live environment that facilitated pure connection.
With three encore tracks, “Black Holes (Solid Ground)” stood out amongst the rest, while the sea of bodies in the crowd jumped around in reckless abandon. Hit single “Shakin’ Off the Rust” closed out the night in a blaze of guitar and fans passionately singing along to every word, desperately clinging onto the last moments of the show.
The Blue Stones are set to embark across the United States through the end of June. On their journey of rock reinvention, they are targeting new cities and fans both new and old. Joined by Dan Auerbach protégés, The Velveteers, this is not a show to be missed.
Full tour dates can be viewed here.
The Blue Stones Gallery
The Blue Stones Online: Website | Facebook | Instagram | Spotify | Apple Music
You must be logged in to post a comment.