The New Pornographers, The Dodos, Imaad Wasif
The Palladium Showroom
Saturday, July 24, 2010
Better Than: staring at Lady Gaga fans.
On their third visit to the Dallas area, The New Pornographers finally got to be a headliner. (See more photos in Hal Samples' slideshow.)
Given the size of the Palladium Showroom, this was a show for the longtime followers with plenty of room for newcomers. A lot of the crowd was at least college age, but there were a few who looked like they were teenagers when the records that inspired The New Pornographers came out. And they were not adults dragged along as chaperones. You could tell they wanted to be there.
The only real head-scratcher about the show? The venue was only a little over half of its capacity by the time The New Pornographers hit stage just past 10. For sure this would be a sell-out show, right?
Well, for those who came out and expected a wondrous time, they got it.
As previewed in this week's article on the band, a whopping eight members were on stage the entire time. Ninth member Dan Bejar was on the stage only when needed. If he sang lead vocals on a song, he faced the audience. If he just played guitar, he stood in front of Kurt Dahle's drum set with his back to the audience. When he wasn't "needed," he went backstage. (Bejar did the same thing during the band's last stop in town a few years ago with Spoon at the House of Blues.)
The main set featured twenty full songs along with an impromptu (and quickly aborted) performance of Mass Romantic's "Breakin' the Law." Many songs from Twin Cinema and Together were played, as well as songs from their other three albums. Matter of fact, you could make a good argument that the song selection was a perfect introduction for a newcomer to the band. Sugary pop found in "All the Old Showstoppers," "Myriad Harbor," and "Sweet Talk, Sweet Talk" met the mellow bliss of "My Shepherd" and "The Bleeding Heart Show."
Performance-wise, the band had their A-game on. Carl Newman's lead vocals were often harmonized not only by Kurt Dahle, but also Neko Case and Kathryn Calder. Calder, originally brought into the band to fill in when Case wasn't available to tour, complemented Case's vocals beautifully. Given the absorbing strength and range of Case's voice, she never overpowered her bandmates.
Between the nine members on stage, there really weren't any instrumental parts found on their records that weren't covered. Good thing, because "Moves" just would have not been the same without a cello. The same thing went for that certain keyboard sound in the main hook of "The Laws Have Changed."
After a short break, the band encored with three songs: "Challengers," "The Slow Descent Into Alcoholism" and "Testament to Youth in Verse." As if that weren't enough, people wanted more after that, so the band came back. "We're not good at this second-encore bullshit," Newman lightly cautioned just before launching into "These Are the Fables." Also cautioning that he didn't remember all of its words, Newman then began "My Rights Versus Yours." Closing in on a two-hour set at that point, the band said a final goodnight after midnight.
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Second-act openers The Dodos were greeted by many cheers and sing-alongs from the crowd. The trio, given its drum-and-percussion-heavy lineup, bounced through a number of favorites, new songs, and even played a few requests. Guitarist Meric Long showed off quite impressive skills on the acoustic guitar as fellow members Logan Kroeber and Keyton Snider pounced on their equipment. Fellow opener Imaad Wasif wowed quite a few folks with a relatively tame version of Jeff Buckley's "Grace," Fu Manchu, and Queens of the Stone Age. There were no acrobatic falsettos, Big Muff freakouts, or tales of hot rods and fuzzy dice, but there was a propulsion to Wasif's music that was not really matched for the rest of the night.
By the way: Despite all of the songs The New Pornographers played, certain crowd members openly wished for more songs. Me? I wouldn't have minded hearing "Unguided."
And another thing: When a fan blurted out, asking if Dan Bejar hated the crowd, Kurt Dahle explained there was a lot of alcohol backstage.