I’ve never reviewed a band or a live show before so this will be new for the both of us.
I saw The New Pornographers a The Moon tonight. It was a spur of the moment show, so I had very limited expectations. I find this is usually a good way to go into things. My only prior experience with TNP was a single song I had on a compilation album. “100 of the best indie songs of 2008.” The song was mostly acoustic and piano with forlorn male and female vocals over the top.
Their live performance was anything but acoustic and forlorn. They’re a six piece band with two keyboards, lead vocalist/ guitarist, rhythm guitarist, bass, and drummer. As you can imagine they made quite a bit of noise. And contrary to the one I had heard prior, most of their set was upbeat and rocking.
They we’re much older than I expected too. Not to say they were Rolling Stones-back-from-the-dead-old, but they we’rent dropped-out-of-college-to-tour-with-my-band-young. The majority of the audience was of a similar age. I found this refreshing. It made me feel like I was standing amongst something already established. I felt as if I was an outsider in a world I didn’t understand.
So many shows I go to are played by kids my age which fills me with equal parts jealousy and happyness. The fact that all of the players in TNP were much older than I, a few even graying, was nice to see and made me feel that I was seeing an established artist and not some kids with instruments.
But their experience almost played against them. One of their keyboard players seemed sooo bored on stage. He hardly smiled and barely made eye contact with the audience. I couldn’t hear anything he was playing, which may have well been a factor. I wouldn;t be having a good time if all of my parts were turned down.
Besides that, the melodies and harmonies between their frontman and their pianist/female vocalist were great. Many of their songs seemed similar to someone who didn’t know the words and wasn’t familiar with the tunes. They all carried a similar head-bobbing tempo and chug chug downbeat rhythm. These were punctuated by one or two solemn and downbeat songs, including the one I recognized. By the end of the hour and a half, as they played newer and more well known tunes (and as the audience downed more bottles) the crowd became more animated and sang back the lyrics with more vigor and closing their set with an all-singing all-playing shout chorus of oohs and ahhs, echoed by the audience.
The obligatory encore was played after some thirty seconds behind the stage. One I was surprised I recognized. They exited the stage with a wave and a thank you, polite and friendly until the end. The roadies came out and the audience begrudgingly realized it was time to leave. Cleverly, country music was blared over the house speakers to clear the loiterers out.
With no expectations I found I was pleasantly surprised. I usually don’t like going to shows where I don’t know the music and don’t know the words, but I found their songs easy to bob and sway to, and the small intimate audience made the experience all that much more memorable. Though they seemed like a band not used to playing a venue so large, The New Pornographers were more than up to the challenge, and delivered.