Eric Burdon Black Sheep Stage, LeBreton Flats, Ottawa ON, July 7

Eric Burdon Black Sheep Stage, LeBreton Flats, Ottawa ON, July 7
Photo: Jessica Deeks
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At the dawn of the British Invasion, Eric Burdon made some exceptional musical choices with his band the Animals, transforming trad-folk and gospel into some of the most memorable anthems of the rock era. On day four of the Ottawa Bluesfest, Mr. Burdon verified that his days of musical innovation were decades behind him. Headlining the fest's smallest outdoor stage the same night Sir Paul McCartney rocked Ottawa's hockey stadium, Burdon was joined by seven aging, gaudily-dressed "rockers" and one dreadfully distracting teleprompter operator. Though Burdon gave the fervent audience exactly what they wanted (the hits) and a couple things they didn't (new material), much of his set sounded bloated and puerile, due to the pure excess of instrumentation that seemed to garnish every track. As the 72-year-old stomped through "Spill the Wine," "We Gotta Get Out of This Place," "It's My Life," "The House of the Rising Sun" and a strong rendition of "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood," one is left to wonder if Burdon would have benefited from a stripped-down live show, one that showcased the raw energy and cheeky cunningness that made his sprawling catalog so compelling in the first place.