Elbow may fill arenas and headline massive festivals back home across the pond, but that doesn’t mean the band is any less loved by its Stateside fans. Here, the crowds are just smaller. Much, much smaller.
It’s a real treat to be able to see such a polished, passionate and humble rock act in an intimate setting like the Paradise, where fans jammed into every nook and cranny for a rare U.S. headlining show from the British band last night. The enthusiastic crowd sang and clapped along on every turn in the band’s well-paced, 100-plus minute set, which focused equally on its latest effort, Build a Rocket Boys!, and its Mercury Music Prize-winning predecessor, The Seldom Seen Kid – with a few selections from 2005’s Leaders of the Free World mixed in for good measure.
Wilco’s performance at the Wang last night was by far the shortest headlining set I’ve seen from the band in years. It also happened to be one of my favorites.
The setlist was just north of half the number of songs the band performed during an epic, 39-song set at the Orpheum during its 2010 “Evening With” tour, and it was refreshing to experience a concise, well-paced night that was light on traditional Wilco live staples and heavy on songs from its new album, The Whole Love. (Stream it on NPR until it hits stores next week.)
Early on in Clap Your Hands Say Yeah’s headlining set at the ‘Dise last night, shouts of “We missed you!” could be heard bellowing out from the balcony.
It’s been a couple of years since audiences have heard much from the band, and as CYHSY re-emerges from that hiatus it’s taking strong steps towards a major, once unthinkable turnaround from overhyped indie rock whipping-boy to an underdog that crowds can really get behind once again.
When Death Cab for Cutie played a much more intimate show at the ‘Dise less than two months ago, the setlist matched the setting. Though the band was warming up for the release of its seventh album, Codes and Keys, it pulled extensively from its deep back catalog with early career gems like “Your Bruise,” “Photobooth,” “405” and “Company Calls.”
Back to a more familiar venue size for a show at the Bank of America Pavilion on Monday, the band got downright anthemic.
In its recorded state, the Wooden Birds’ increasingly compelling catalog would seem to be the perfect campfire accompaniment – understated, breezy tunes ripe for hushed sing-alongs and propelled by subtle, hand-driven percussion. In a live setting, Andrew Kenny’s songs take on a greater weight thanks to the former American Analog Set front man’s new band, with lovely vocals from Leslie Sisson, under-the-radar guitar work from indie singer-songwriter Matt Pond and tactful drumming from Sean Haskins.
Temperatures were scorching outside when the Birds returned to Great Scott on Tuesday, but Kenny and company couldn’t be kept down by the heat as they plowed through a tight headlining set centered around material from their new album, Two Matchsticks. The crowd was light in numbers, but extremely enthusiastic throughout the band’s 16-song, hour-long performance – clearly a pleasant surprise for Kenny, who took to Twitter the following day to muse “I don’t know where that came from. Boston, that was the real deal.”
Those who saw the Wooden Birds the last time they played Great Scott in August were treated to a sneak peak of many of the songs that would become the band’s second album, Two Matchsticks.
MP3 // The Wooden Birds // “Two Matchsticks” (via Barsuk)
With that completed album in tow, Andrew Kenny and company return to the Allston club on Tuesday, July 12. Matchsticks is a breezy collection of understated pop songs that feels tailor-made for summer. It’s a more compelling, well-rounded effort than the band’s debut, which Kenny finished writing after his lengthy run with the American Analog Set wound down – before re-relocating to Austin and before the Wooden Birds even existed as a band.
FiTi recently caught up with Kenny for some insight on his new band’s live approach and what could develop into a brief reunion with the Analog Set.
You covered Kenny Rogers and Hall & Oates on the free EP that preceded the release of Two Matchsticks. Were there any other fabulously unlikely contenders to receive the cover treatment?
We also tried “Always A Relief” by Radio Dept. and Metallica’s “Orion.” We never got a good feel for the Radio Dept. song. That is to say we could make it sound like a Radio Dept. song but not a Wooden Birds song. It’s a great number though and I haven’t given up on it yet. “Orion” is a great song, too, but we couldn’t pull it off because we never tried it – and I also just made that one up.
The Antlers played a set heavy on material from their new album, Burst Apart, to an enthusiastic crowd at the ‘Dise last night. Some pictorial evidence follows. Keep your eye on Melophobe for more coverage from the show, coming soon…
In stark contrast to openers Gauntlet Hair, the Dodos were all business from the second they took the stage at the ‘Dise last night. The San Francisco indie rock duo – touring as a trio behind its latest album, the excellent No Color – brandished coffee mugs instead of beer bottles, gently setting their beverages down and launching into a frantic set-opening run through “Good,” the dark, propulsive “Black Night” and the airy, summer-appropriate jam “When Will You Go.”
Lykke Li’s show at the House of Blues on Friday night was originally slated for the ‘Dise, but the Swedish singer had little trouble filling the more cavernous venue to near capacity.
The larger settling was a fortunate turn for Li, whose star has continued its rise in the months since her latest Boston date was first announced. Adapting her elaborate stage set-up – a large backing band set on multiple dedicated platforms, intermingling with floor-to-ceiling black curtains – f0r the more intimate Comm. Ave. club would have been a challenge, to say the least.
You wouldn’t have guessed it from glancing at a setlist that included both some of his oldest songs and some that have yet to be released, but Nik Freitas never quite seemed to get comfortable during a short solo set opening for the Submarines at the Brighton Music Hall last week.
The California singer and songwriter barely touched on his excellent 2008 album Sun Down during his 35-minute set, instead dipping deeper into his back catalog for more understated selections like “Was Here” and “Normal” when he wasn’t playing new songs from his upcoming album, Saturday Night Underwater. Freitas stuck largely to acoustic guitar, pacing around in the shadows of the stage, peering off a bit mysteriously into the crowd filtering into the room.