Former Red Rider vocalist Tom Cochrane said a fan encouraged him to play more Red Rider “covers” after a recent show. That comment is pretty indicative of what an enigma Cochrane is to American audiences. While mining multiplatinum awards and No. 1 records in his native Canada, he’s still looking for his breakthrough in the United States.

But Cochrane’s new Capitol album, “Mad Mad World,” and his solid touring band are two factors pointing him toward potential U.S. success. “Life Is a Highway,” Cochrane’s current single, is enjoying success at album rock radio and is the most powerful song in his live set. A great live showcase for his fine five-piece backup band, “Life Is a Highway” is extended in concert by a gospel-flavored tag.

Other winners in the set included the upbeat “Victory Day”; the very affecting “Get Back Up”; and Red Rider’s sole hit, “Lunatic Fringe.” Powered by former Loverboy drummer Matt Frenette and the tasteful keyboard work of Eric Webster, Cochrane and band are primed for a taste of Yankee success.

The seemingly tireless Smithereens are still out promoting their most recent–and arguably best–album, “Blow Up.” The classic rock groove of “Indigo Blues” and the catalog hit “Behind the Wall of Sleep” were highlights of a tight , sharp set from the New Jersey natives.


Band:  Tom Cochrane; Matt Frenette, Ken Sinnaeve, Sil Simone, Eric Webster, Peter Fredette.