Saturday, October 25, 2014

Afghan Whigs/Joseph Arthur, October 25, 2014 at the Fonda

We would be loathe to miss an Afghan Whigs show, as a reward after their being gone for so long, but after seeing them twice on the previous tour less than two years before, this seemed only like a companion show. Of course we had to hear the new material, from Do to the Beast, in a set more full than the Coachella one, with the highlights from the best-of set (that we'd already heard) -- all of it boiled down into just a one-night stand. It was the same band, still lacking the intensity (and drugs) of the old days, so Carla wouldn’t be able to experience that, but even if they were more stately these days, it was still a good run-through (even with "Gentlemen" but no "Debonair."  Surely the people there were true enough fans to be over their one radio hit). Dulli hasn’t been as chatty since even the early days of the Twilight Singers, but he can let the music speak for him, and that’s good enough. A highlight of the evening was the opening set by Joseph Arthur, who I’d caught years before (from KCRW, notThe O.C.), though I stopped before he started putting out too many albums to keep up with, and I'd never seen him even though he played L.A. regularly. His show that night wasn’t so much about the music, which was fine, since at the same time as he played he was painting on a canvas. This is a gimmick only if you’re expecting it to be all music, like most any other concert and with any other expectations for such, but in a context of the whole performance being art, even if the music wasn’t so avant-garde, it worked, and was at least a swerve from the norm.  Maybe he’s a better musician than painter (though the painting wasn't bad), and maybe he got as big as he’ll ever get years ago, but it was at least a display that made for a stand-out in an otherwise satisfying but not explosive evening.

Afghan Whigs' set-list:
"Parked Outside"
"Fountain and Fairfax"
"The Lottery"
"Step Into the Light"
"Now You Know"
"Royal Cream"
"I Am Fire" (with Fleetwood Mac's "Tusk" snippet)
"Turn On the Water"
"It Kills"
"Can Rova"
"John the Baptist"
"My Enemy"
"Son of the South"
"Lost in the Woods"

"Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" (The Police cover)
"Heaven on Their Minds" (Andrew Lloyd Webber cover)
"Somethin' Hot"
"Going to Town"
"Across 110th Street"/"Faded"

Joseph Arthur's set-list:
"Devil's Broom"
"I Used to Know How to Walk on Water"
"The Ballad of Boogie Christ"
"Honey and the Moon"/"Travel As Equals"
"Gypsy Faded"
"Heroin" (The Velvet Underground cover)
"I Miss the Zoo"
"Blue Lights in the Rear View"

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

TV on the Radio/Natasha Kmeto, October 22, 2014 at the Fonda

It’s not such a rare thing to see TV on the Radio, and it isn’t like we haven’t seen them numerous times before, and it’s not like we were all over their new album (Seeds, which we didn’t have; Carla nor I had just not gone out of our way for it), but we like them enough that we might as well go when they did a show (originally booked at the Regent, which would have been the first time we'd have gone there; the Fonda worked better for us anyway). As great as their recorded stuff was (never hurt by top-notch production), they were consistently inconsistent in concert -- a dull show or two for every few pretty good ones -- but we knew that they could pull out at least a few good tunes if nothing else, and we could check out the new stuff. It turned out to be one of the pretty good shows -- a little heavy on the atmospherics, and maybe not the barn-burner that made their name in the days before we ever heard of them, and not enough of their top tunes to mark it in our memories, but they made enough of an effort to pull off a performance that wasn't one of the dull ones. Natasha Klemto (if I got that name right) went on first, either a DJ or someone just playing music to warm up the crowd, but her stuff sounded great in either capacity, the infrequent opener we were at a show early enough to see, and apparently Google-proof. Or we were there at that time for a standard band playing the place, but TVOTR went on late enough that their opener was playing when they should have. They played well enough but the show itself was hamstrung by feeling shortened, being over just when they could have started to kick it in. They went on way too close to midnight, for whatever reason (as not a lot of other bands outside of a festival headliner or Guns n’ Roses get play that late), enough that the set-list looks like they played mid-day at a fest, and without "Staring at the Sun" (which apparently was planned for the very last but they ran out of time). We didn’t know that we would go ahead and see them twice more on this tour, so maybe we could have skipped this show, but with Andrew, Heather, Max, and Linda, it wasn’t a wasted evening (if over very late).

TV on the Radio's set-list:
"Could You"
"Careful You"
"Blues From Down Here"
"The Wrong Way"
"Dancing Choose"
"Wolf Like Me"


Friday, October 17, 2014

The New Pornographers, October 17, 2014 at the Wiltern

The New Pornographers were a good enough idea at the beginning -- basically an indie super-group -- then it was astounding when Neko Case went from a studio buddy to actually touring with them, and she actually kept sticking around. She probably could have sold venues just as well as the whole band but whatever kept her traveling with them, not just continuing to make music, was welcome, as was their coming to town. We might have seen them enough for a while, and Brill Bruisers wasn’t an album that needed a particular amount of support (though it raised up Together by comparison) but when everyone else said they were in for it we threw in as well. Even better to come out when they’d graduated to the Wiltern (but two nights at the Fonda was pretty good too).  As it was it was a standard show, a run-through of their stuff, a few decent deeper cuts, and a comfortable crowd of great musicians on stage, most of which could do -- and actually do -- their own solo stuff (not just Neko). Not as extraordinary as when they’ve had stronger material to draw from (not that their latest was lesser material, but their first three albums set an incredibly high standard) but still a treat to see them all.  Even if they kept putting out merely good albums, as long as they have those elements in the mix, they’ll be worth supporting. Another draw for us was seeing openers Pains of Being Pure at Heart, a band good enough that it almost could have been a co-headlining tour that New Porn just happened to close every night, but, being a Friday night to have dinner with Tana & Jamin and Jake & Lauralee, we missed them -- a disappointment but their latest album Days of Abandon didn’t seem like it was going to supplant memories of seeing them for their earlier stuff.

The New Pornographers' set-list:
"Brill Bruisers"
"Myriad Harbour"
"Use It"
"War On the East Coast"
"All the Old Showstoppers"
"Champions of Red Wine"
"Jackie, Dressed in Cobras"
"Another Drug Deal of the Heart"
"The Laws Have Changed"
"You Tell Me Where"
"Testament to Youth in Verse"
"Wide Eyes"
"Crash Years"
"Adventures in Solitude"
"Sweet Talk, Sweet Talk"
"Silver Jenny Dollar"
"Fantasy Fools"
"Born With a Sound"
"Mass Romantic"

"Dancehall Domine"
"Sing Me Spanish Techno"
"The Bleeding Heart Show"

"Execution Day"
"The Slow Descent Into Alcoholism"