11/17/14 New York, NY Hammerstein Ballroom
11/18/14 Hamden, CT The Space
11/19/14 Boston, MA House Of Blues Boston
11/20/14 Philadelphia, PA Union Transfer
11/21/14 Washington, DC 9:30 Club
11/22/14 Washington, DC 9:30 Club
11/23/14 Carrboro, NC Cat's Cradle
12/01/14 Manchester Deaf Institute
12/02/14 London O2 Shepherds Bush Empire
12/04/14 Paris, France La Maroquinerie
12/06/14 Nijmegen Doornroosje
12/07/14 Amsterdam Melkweg
Canadian indie super group (of sorts) New Pornographers came to town, along with openers The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, and insisted that the venue put signs everywhere warning that any photography or video (from cell phones or otherwise) could result in expulsion from the sold-out show.
The respectful and somewhat older crowd mostly obliged and actually watched, listened, and enjoyed what was coming from the stage. Instead of being nose-down in social media postings, watching the show through a 4” phone screen, or shamelessly selfie-taking, the audience paid attention—what a concept!
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
The group is out in support of their latest, Days of Abandon (Yebo Music) and showed the Minneapolis crowd, maybe their most mature sounding local performance to date, playing half the new album’s songs, which skew quieter and less raucous, though best received predictably were the older songs, like the driving ‘Young Adult Friction’ from 2009.
Berman and band didn’t say much, save towards the end, when he played hype man for the headliner, remarking “New Pornographers are going come out and blow your mind!” A crowd member shouted back, “You just did!” only to have Berman retort, “well…I hope you have two minds then!”.
Ending with their namesake song, and its crunching chorus “No, we will never die”, The Pains seemed right at home in the bigger room and we hope to see them back there, in a headlining role soon.
The night began positively and upbeat showcasing an album singer AC Newman describes as a “celebration record” and proved to be the perfect prescription to come in out of the cold for.
Singer Neko Case, who dressed in a gray t-shirt and Cleopatra-print leggings (which were all the talk after, on social media) and Newman both commented before the jumpy new ‘Dancehall Domine’, “we’ve had a lot of cupcakes, so we’re bouncing’ off the walls”, to the crowd’s chagrin.
Case, Newman, keyboardist Kathryn Calder (dressed in a black/white geometric top) and Dan Bejar all traded the lead vocal spot, in an overall well-paced 100 min. set. Early technical issues were quickly overcome (maybe a result of the cupcakes?) and the band was quickly back on track with new album’s second single, the Cars-sounding electronic, ‘War on the East Coast’.
Bejar would sing a song then disappear, to eventually re-appear, coffee mug in hand, for another song, each like a gift to an audience eager to hear his distinctive voice. The vocal interplay between Case and Newman was particularly spellbinding, especially their trading of verses on mid-set’s ‘Adventures in Solitude’.
“This is really an amazing place to always come to… we know it’s always going to be awesome” Newman mentioned before ‘Testament to Youth in Verse’, gathering some local love, but also refused to mention another dubious city where things maybe weren’t so golden for the group.
After ending the main set with ‘Mass Romantic’ from their 2000 debut album, things got especially lively with the two encores. Older songs, 'Challengers’, ‘Moves’ and ‘The Bleeding Heart Show’ had people singing along and head nodding in place.
For the second encore, an audience chant of “Dan, Dan, Dan” brought back out Bejar, for an unplanned ‘Execution Day’, with perfect harmonies reminiscent of the best Crosby Stills and Nash songs, and Newman remarking after, “that was sort of…unexpected- you’ve got to guilt him in doing that”.
2005’s ‘Sing Me Spanish Techno’ ended the evening on a bouncy high note, with the band visibly happy to have played, and an appreciative audience actually paying attention and loving it—what a concept!
New Pornographers at First Avenue, Minneapolis (12 Nov 2014)