The Best Shows Hitting Vancouver in February 2023

From Canadian legends to a nu-country extravaganza, it's all happening live this month

From Canadian legends to a nu-country extravaganza, it’s all happening this month

1. Lights at Commodore Ballroom – Wednesday, February 1Lights

Never mind the fact that Lights is a five-time Juno Award-winning singer-songwriter; I’m just impressed by her mad skills as a comic book author and illustrator. As she previously accompanied her smash hit 2017 electropop album Skin & Earth with its own series of comics, she’s gone and done the same with her newest record Pep, available on her website as a faux beta menu offering entitled The Clinic. As for her musical style, she’s never stagnating and always changing it up. Her new release embodies a more alt-rock-influenced sound and fiercely feminist point of view, but fear not, she still holds onto that dreamy, atmospheric feel that has earned her props as a steadfast staple in the Canadian indie-music scene.
Tickets from $98.77

2. Bruce Cockburn at The Centre – Saturday, February 4Bruce CockburnFacebook/Bruce Cockburn

If we’re having a conversation about iconic Canadian musicians, at some point we’re going to have to discuss none other than legendary singer-songwriter Bruce Cockburn. The 77-year-old Ottawa native has been gracing this great land’s airwaves and stages for more than 55 years now, and he exhibits absolutely no signs of slowing down anytime soon. This Officer of the Order of Canada has received 13 Junos, the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award, and a veritable bucketload of honorary doctorates from more universities than I can count on one, or even two hands. Adding to those multifarious accolades, he’s also earned inductions into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame, so it’s really no wonder he’s often been lauded as our nation’s best-kept secret.
Tickets from $61.75

3. Colin James Blues Trio at Clarke Theatre, Mission – Tuesday, February 7Colin James

It’s difficult to imagine the scenario when Colin James signed his first record deal back in 1988. As the story goes, his producer explicitly advised him to avoid playing any blues on his debut release because his label expected a pop hit. Are you kidding me? What were they thinking? Better to heed the advice of the late great Stevie Ray Vaughan, who, as legend has it, told his protégé, “I’m opening doors for youwalk through them.” Walk through them he did, because it was the album’s blistering fifth track “Why’d You Lie” that set him on his path to the genre’s upper echelon. Sure, he’s touched on pop and rock and even a little bit of swing, but with a career spanning three and a half decades, he’s revisiting his preferred roots with his acclaimed Blues Trio for a couple of sudden stops east of the big smoke. If you weren’t lucky enough to scoop up a seat to his February 6 sold-out performance in Maple Ridge, you have a chance to catch him at this gig in Mission on the next night. But don’t delay; there are only a handful of tickets remaining for this intimate event.
Tickets from $65.80

4. Thomas Rhett at Rogers Arena – Thursday, February 9Thomas RhettFacebook/Thomas Rhett

Taking into deep consideration rock music is generally where my heart lives, I admittedly know very little about the contemporary country genre. But I do watch Entertainment Tonight and its northern counterpart, ET Canada, somewhat regularly, and they appear to have their finger on the pulse of banged-up pickup trucks and cheap malt liquor. Or at least that’s the way it seems when they’re not using up their music allotment attempting to convince us of Taylor Swift’s purported genius. Don’t start. So anyway, this Thomas Rhett dude shows up on both shows fairly often, and he genuinely comes across as a pretty nice guy. That’s my impetus for featuring him in this column; he seems nice. I don’t know what else you want from me. OK, well, if it helps, I can tell you this nü-country extravaganza will also feature Jordan Davis and Kameron Marlowe. Sounds like a time.
Tickets from $54.35

5. The Charlatans UK at Commodore Ballroom – Monday, February 13The CharlatansThe Charlatans

Initially formed alongside The Stone Roses and Happy Mondays as part of the late ’80s Madchester baggy scene, The Charlatans UK made their indelible mark by having all 13 of their studio albums appear in the Top 40 UK Charts, including three number ones. That’s no small feat when you consider most people hold to the inaccurate belief nobody buys records anymore. But putting all that success aside, the thing I think is admirable in relation to this band is how frontman Tim Burgess was able to create a worthwhile use for Twitter. During the pandemic, with the obvious lack of live music events, he launched “Tim’s Twitter Listening Party” where he would tweet while listening to one of his favourite albums, often with a member of the album’s band who would also tweet alongside, providing valuable insight about the recording. How wonderful! See, I’d say that’s a significantly more interesting use of your time than watching billionaires exchanging conspiracy theories, right?
Tickets from $53

6. Riverside at Rickshaw Theatre – Tuesday, February 28Riverside

Wikipedia will tell you Riverside is a progressive-rock band from Warsaw, Poland. I’m presenting you with that generic disambiguation to establish which Riverside will be coming to our town, because a quick Google is going to offer you approximately 17-million search resultsfrom a modern country cover act from Missouri; to a Florida outfit specializing in danceable classic pop; not to mention about a gazillion high-school marching bands. As it turns out, my personal favourite of all the Riversides will be making only their second appearance in Vancouver over their 22-year existence, which is obviously a rare treat for those of us who attended the first time four years ago. Expect to hear tracks from their better known releases like Love, Fear and the Time Machine and Wasteland, along with plenty of new stuff from their recently dropped concept album ID.Entity, whichtrust meis nothing short of brilliant. Just go. Thank me later.
Tickets from $44.50