As part of the continuing August gigs extravaganza I’ve seen two great American Indie bands, both of whom gained plenty of fame last year for contributing large potions of soundtracks for films that I completely failed to get around to seeing. First off was Spoon, who I came across via the excellent yet sadly cancelled US TV seriesVeronica Mars where they used their excellent I Turn My Camera On as backing to some late night telephoto snooping scenes, which was also used in the trailer for and actual soundtrack of the film Stranger Than Fiction.
Their set was lengthy, nearing two hours, and focussed largely on their most recent album Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga which I have enthused over before. However, they played lots of their earlier hits, and I’ve become completely besotted with Kill The Moonlight, one of their earlier albums thanks to their stunning live versions of Stay Don’t Go and Paper Tiger, and they opened with a great version of Small Stakes. Their whole sound is very tightly produced but their live act replicates and improves on almost all of it. Though I was disappointed that they didn’t play The Ghost Of You Lingers they did do a great You Got Yr Cherry Bomb even without horns.
In the days after I started listenning a lot to the music of Devotchka wondering to myself if when I saw them live they could possibly make their sound even approach the rich sound of their albums. I realised early on that unless they had some kind of virtuoso violin/accordion player, crazy drummer/trumpet player, powerful bass/sousaphone player and manic front man there wouldn’t be much chance of that. (you can guess that this is my kind of band already, can’t you?). However, from the very first bar of their theme song, Devotchka, it was clear that they were every bit the swaggering act you’d expect of a band that started as a backing troupe for the likes of Dita Von Teese.
There sadly aren’t many videos around online or live concert recordings that come close to capturing the experience of seeing Devotchka live, though this capture of them performing We’re Leaving (which I think was first encore) is not far off. I think they pull off bringing in Balkan and other eastern folk influences far better than Beirut or Gogol Bordello, though Beirut at least is always fun if a tad earnest.
How It Ends was easily their crowd pleaser of the evening, though I have a massive love for Queen Of The Surface Streets if only for having the lyric “that’s when I love the accommodations in a urine smelling transit station”. I’m simple that way.
And I haven’t even mentioned how well their singer plays the Theremin.