Saturday, June 20, 2009

Regina Spektor charms sold-out crowd at NYC's Beacon Theatre, 6/17/09

With a new album (Far) coming out June 23, Regina Spektor has been keeping herself busy. Though she has tour dates lined up through September after her album drops, this didn't stop her from performing a sold-out show in New York City's Beacon Theatre Wednesday night.

Spektor charmed the audience from the second she took the stage in a simple black outfit, which made her look like she was ready for a piano recital. Though she was aware of the adoring audience, which was filled with people who cheered enthusiastically and even gave her flowers towards the end of her set, Spektor couldn't stop gushing about how thrilling (and occasionally nerve wracking) it was for her to be there. When the person in charge of lighting took a moment to shine the lights throughout the otherwise darkened venue, Spektor laughed nervously as she realized how many people were there. "Now I can see them all!" she exclaimed. But a few seconds later she added that it was "really nice" getting a chance to see everyone there.

The set focused largely on Spektor's newer material from Far, including the single "Laughing With," but that didn't stop anyone from enjoying the show. Spektor's strong vocals and brilliant piano playing — only occasionally backed by a small string section and drums — had everyone's attention, even if the material wasn't always familiar to us. She eventually mixed things up by throwing in a few songs from Begin to Hope including the fascinating "Apres Moi. And she even touched upon some older material like "Poor Little Rich Boy" (complete with Spektor drumming on a chair while playing her piano) and "Consequence of Sounds" (which she performed with great spirit after a false start).

The concert was a perfect showcase for Spektor's talent and charisma, which are even more overwhelming in a live setting. For two hours that night, it was easy to forget about the world outside as I sat there watching her perform.

Setlist: Folding Chair, Lucky Penny, Time is All Around, Eet, The Calculation, Machine, One More Time with Feeling, On the Radio, Blue Lips, Riot Gear, Laughing With, Bobbing for Apples, That Time, Apres Moi, Human of the Year, Poor Little Rich Boy, Holocaust, Consequence of Sounds, Man of a Thousand Faces

Encore: Samson, Us, Fidelity

(Crossposted at Pop Wenches)

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Doves return to NYC at Terminal 5: 6/4/09

There are some bands out there that have a pretty good following. They get excellent press and they have a solid amount of fans. Yet, they still manage to "fly under the radar." The UK's Doves totally fit this bill.

But their Thursday night concert at New York City's Terminal 5 — their first in the city in approximately four years — would have suggested otherwise. The venue was packed with adoring fans (even the bizarre, obnoxiously rowdy types behind me seemed to know all the lyrics to each song), excited to catch the band in the area. As even bassist/singer Jimi Goodwin pointed out, it had been far "too long."

The band, noted for being consistently solid live, did a great job despite some sound issues that popped up here and there. The sound problems seem to be a Terminal 5 thing for the most part — I've read and heard numerous complaints about the venue since I first went there to see The National perform, and I suppose there is some truth to what people have said. Goodwin wound up spending the first few songs motioning at the sound and monitor guys to adjust the mix.

But with or without sound issues, the band powered through a set featuring numerous songs from their current album Kingdom of Rust, alongside a good mix of songs from their first three albums, thrilling the crowd immensely when they performed songs like "Snowden," "The Cedar Room," and "Caught By the River" to name a few. "Black and White Town" from 2005's Some Cities was one of the big hits during the night, prompting a good chunk of the crowd to dance along with fists pumping.

Doves' newer material also translated well to the stage, with audience members transfixed during Kingdom of Rust's title track and "10:03," which proved to be one of the more beautiful performances of the night. The band succeeded in recreating the moody, moving quality of their studio recordings onstage, transporting many of us in the audience into what felt like another realm. While it's a real shame that Doves aren't bigger than they are, their live shows indicate that they are truly passionate about their art, which is the best gift a band can give their fans.

Watch footage of Doves performing "Kingdom of Rust" and "Here It Comes" (from 2000's Lost Souls, with drummer Andy Williams taking over lead vocals) at Terminal 5 below. The full setlist follows at the end of this post.

Setlist: Jetstream, Snowden, Winter Hill, Rise, Pounding, Almost Forgot Myself, 10:03, Words, The Greatest Denier, Kingdom of Rust, Ambition, Black & White Town, The Outsiders, Caught By the River

Encore: The Cedar Room, Here it Comes, Last Broadcast, There Goes the Fear

(Crossposted at Pop Wenches)

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Art Brut kick off Mercury Lounge residency in NYC; 6/1/09

Loud, fast, silly... yet sincere. These are some of the terms one could use to describe Art Brut, the English/German punk band that started a residency at New York's Mercury Lounge last night. The band played to a sold-out crowd that ate up frontman Eddie Argos' every word, performing songs taken from all three of their albums.

Despite suffering some recent back problems (which he referred to a few times during the night) Argos was in top form as he "jumped rope" with his microphone cord, waxed poetic about comics like Booster Gold, and relayed personal anecdotes to accompany his sometimes equally personal lyrics. He even plunged right into the audience, staying there for a good few minutes, while performing "Modern Art."

The band and audience kept playing off each other the entire night, making it one of the most energetic small shows I've seen in ages. Between their never-ending (successful) attempts to keep us entertained and Argos' lyrics about topics like a love of DC comics and chocolate milkshakes, the band just made us feel like we were all hanging out with a bunch of old friends and acting silly. Only, Art Brut are the types of friends who play sold-out, week-long residencies and get to perform encores after a room full of people shout "Art Brut, Top of the Pops!" Some people just have all the luck.

Setlist: Alcoholics Unanimous, Direct Hit, Modern Art, Summer Job, Rusted Guns, What a Rush, Emily Kane, Demons Out, DC Comics and Chocolate Milkshakes, Pump Up the Volume, Good Weekend, Positively 5th Street, My Little Brother, Nag Nag Nag Nag

Encore: Bang Bang Rock n' Roll, 18000 Lira, Post Soothing Out

(Crossposted at Pop Wenches)