It’s not an easy time to go to a show. Venues might be open, shows might be happening, but there’s still so much stacked against going out, from COVID still being an issue (no matter how many jabs you’ve had) to inflation (drink prices are definitely up), not to mention war and the impending death of democracy. Yet there’s still the pent-up desire to get out of the house, to see the artists that you’d been missing for over two years now, whether for their new COVID era albums that they haven’t been able to do live, or the classics you’d had on repeat when stuck in isolation. Indeed, it can be a special night, like when Montreal’s Land of Talk came to New York’s Bowery Ballroom on Friday, April 29th.
Now, admittedly, it wasn’t the most packed Bowery Ballroom (QRO venue review), even with the upstairs closed – but you don’t want to be at a packed show these days, do you? It meant you could go up close if you wanted, or hang in the back, even avoid a guy with a regular cold (your correspondent). You could run into old friends you maybe hadn’t seen in-person since COVID. And Bowery hasn’t raised their drink prices to the stratosphere like other places (though the bartender reminisced about how the now-eight dollar PBR tall boys were only two dollars when she started…).
Land of Talk came back to Bowery (QRO photos there in ‘07) behind both last year’s Calming Night Partner EP (QRO review) and 2020’s Indistinct Conversations (QRO review), because main woman Elizabeth Powell had been busy with new music like so many artists during the lockdown. And those two opened the set, with Indistinct’s “Diaphanous” and Calming’s “Moment Feed”, a lovely start before the killer old title track of 2008 debut full-length Some Are Lakes (QRO review). Powell joked about how she knew people wanted to hear the old songs, but they really wanted to play the new songs live, now that they could, and thanked the crowd for being so accepting & into the new stuff (though it was the oldies like “Some Are Lakes” that got the crowd sing-alongs).
Powell was decked out in a sparkly jumpsuit, from an NYC designer, “Instead of a budget for a light show, I thought I would be the light show…” As searing and sad as pieces such as Conversations’ “Weight of That Weekend” (QRO review) or Calming’s title track can be, to say nothing of the big finish encore return classic “It’s Okay”, between songs Powell was particularly upbeat, even giddy. She was happy to be there with her fans, and with her band – which included her original drummer Bucky Wheaton and bassist Chris McCarron, along with a new keyboardist. Like many a singer/songwriter project, Powell has rotated through a number of backing members (Montreal is full of great musicians), to the point where she’s got her old buds back with her.
“We were completely prepared to play to an empty room, so is like…” Powell joked to the crowd during the set, “We were like, ‘Let’s just go out there and have fun,’ and look at you all…” There are a million reasons not to go out these days, many of them even good ones. But if you do, you might just get an evening that will remind you why you go out in the first place.