[The New Pornographers at House of Blues, Boston, MA; Friday, June 18, 2010. Photo by Ric Dube]
When a band piles on as many tracks on a record as the New Pornographers and wants to recreate the records on stage they'll have to pile the musicians on stage proportionally, so it should surprise nobody that up to nine Pornographers took the stage at a time at this show. What are they, E.L.-fucking-O.? I don't want to sound like one of those people who shits all over a band just because they're very popular because they were actually great, but there's something a little creepy about an act that puts this much effort into limiting their live sound to what happened on their records.
The statement that kind of a performance makes is that their recordings are as much a part of the composition as any other part. And that is just as well because this was clearly what the audience who showed up for this show came to hear anyway, who I would put into three weirdly diverse groups: guys in blazers who learned of the band from 30-second clips of songs heard in a profile on NPR; rock geeks who collect both all of their b-sides as well as comic books; and the most interesting fan segment, hoards of teenagers who leaped and danced as the band began each carefully reproduced LP cut. This was arena rock and the audience loved it.
The set represented the act's complete catalog, drawn heavily from the first half of each album, as if frontman Carl Newman is well aware that these are the tracks that fans gravitate toward before a New Pornographers records begins to sound all samey: Sing Me Spanish Techno, Up in the Dark, Myriad Harbour, Use It, Crash Years, Adventures in Solitude, Jackie Dressed in Cobras, All the Old Showstoppers, Sweet Talk Sweet Talk, Go Places, Jackie, Moves, Your Hands, Twin Cinema, My Shepherd, The Laws Have Changed, Silver Jenny Dollar, Mass Romantic, Bleeding Heart Show, Challengers, Slow Descent Into Alcoholism, Testament to Youth in Verse.
Vocalist Neko Case threatened to beat the shit out of an audience member who threw a CD on stage; sideman Daniel Bejar fulfilled his expected role by wandering around like a charmingly eccentric vagrant, pausing occasionally to thumb a guitar with his back to the audience; and a Dixie riddle cup of Jack Daniels costs 8-fucking-50 at the goddamn House of Blues, where Karen commented it's like seeing a show at TGIFridays.
Seattle-based the Dutchess and the Duke opened the show with extremely pleasant melodic folk rock, followed by San Francisco's the Dodos, who were also great and sounded like they probably come across even better on record.
Ric Dube is the host of the More Lost Time podcast.
The New Pornographers: Internets | MySpace
Dutchess and the Duke: Internets | MySpace
The Dodos: Internets | MySpace