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Years removed from peak popularity, Our Lady Peace (OLP) is tenaciously looking to the future with an ambitious overhauled sound and a January 2022 release of their tenth studio album, Spiritual Machines 2.  Technically the album was released in October making OLP the first Canadian artist in history to release an album in the form of a non-fungible token or NFT (an interesting but entirely separate side story).  Hailing from Toronto, OLP has sold over 5 million albums and produced several major alternative radio hits from 1995-2002. The heavy rocker “Starseed” off their 1995 debut album, Naveed, was a top 10 Mainstream hit and radio favorite “Superman’s Dead” from the 1997 platinum album, Clumsy, helped propel the band to their height of commercial success.  Perhaps as a warmup for an upcoming busy 2022, OLP recently scheduled a few shows in L.A. (where band leader/songwriter Raine Maida now resides) and in my hometown of San Diego.  I was excited to see OLP for the first time, especially at an intimate premier live music venue like the Belly Up

Local San Diego quartet The Thieves About got the Belly Up festivities off to a rockin’ start with their impressive brand of high-energy melodic rock that, at first listen, has you singing along by the second chorus.  Blending the upbeat spirit of the 80’s with edgy 90’s-inspired dual guitars was an entertaining combination – upbeat, melodic, with some balls!  San Diego area music fans – keep an eye on The Thieves About and support local bands!

Our Lady Peace opened their show with a heavy synth ambience and the pulsating dance beats of “The Message”, a new hypnotic song off their upcoming album.  The “message” would soon be clear with the reveal of other new songs that the band was clearly all in with a more electronic pop/dance groove approach. Starting an enjoyable barrage of mega hits, “Superman’s Dead” was the second song followed by the memorable and kick-ass “One Man Army”, followed by the sing along anthem “Innocent”.  The audience was getting their money’s worth!  OLP then threw a nice curveball offering a compelling cover of “Seasons (Waiting on You)” by Future Islands.  Guitarist Steve Mazur started with low volume synth sounds true to the original, but soon transitioned to distorted power chords to amplify and drive the song’s engrossing chord progressions to a crescendo. A truly splendid version of a brilliant song.  Unfortunately, it’s not a track on the upcoming album, but it’s worth a search on YouTube. 

One memorable moment was the performance of “The Clumsy” (off their 1997 platinum album of the same name). Without prompting, the audience roared the familiar pre-chorus lyrics so loud Raine yielded the mic to the joyous crowd and let them sing, “I’ll be waving my hand/Watching you drown/Watching you scream/Quiet or loud”.  Raine seemed touched, acknowledging the effort, “Thanks, I really needed that.” 

A surprise standout was the infectious new tune “Stop Making Stupid People Famous” (video released in July featuring Pussy Riot).  Raine explained the song addresses how our ridiculous modern culture that adores fake and untalented people can be traced back to the beginning of reality television.  The bouncy groove incorporates a slick but subtle guitar hook over a thumping bass/drum dance beat that reminded me a bit of David Bowie’s "China Girl".

OLP delivered an entertaining well-balanced performance showcasing three new songs, a skillfully executed cover tune, and satisfied fan’s craving for the big hits.  While the classic hits inspired a nostalgic look back in time, it’s clear Our Lady Peace is a band focused on crafting a new future. Get ready for the impending launch of a reinvented Our Lady Peace when their new album Spiritual Machines 2 is unleashed late January 2022.

Be well and keep rockin’ - Greg Vitalich


Greg Vitalich

Photojournalist - San Diego

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