Vancouver’s The New Pornographers faced skeptics this year, when it was announced that they weren’t able to get member Dan Bejar into the studio for their new record Whiteout Conditions (QRO review), as he was too busy with his own successful project Destroyer (QRO album review). This also was true with their tour behind the record, meaning that there wouldn’t be some key Bejar songs like single “War On the East Coast” from prior release Brill Bruisers (QRO review). But their show at New York’s Terminal 5 (QRO venue review) on Wednesday, April 26th was a power-pop fueled celebration.
While Whiteout had the lion’s share of the set list, this was not a show that focused exclusively on the new album, to the loss of all the other great ones before. Yes, it started with “High Ticket Attractions” from Whiteout, but followed that up with much older songs “The Laws Have Changed” from 2003’s Electric Version and “Twin Cinema” off of the 2005 album of the same name. The New Pornographers even went into their encore break with “Mass Romantic”, from their 2000 debut record of the same name.
There was also Romantic’s “Fake Headlines”, before which frontman A.C. Newman described it as “vaguely relevant” and, “If you take a couple of lines of out of context, it’s almost political.” Singer Neko Case then called him “Nostradamus.” This wasn’t the first time The New Pornographers played Terminal 5, and while Case wasn’t quite as hilariously rambling on stage as six-plus years ago (QRO live review), she still did find time to add to Newman’s comment that there’s nothing around Terminal 5 (“Unless you want to buy a car” – there are a lot of high-end dealerships), correcting him that New York keeps all its salt nearby (“It’s impressive – you are New York City”). She described taking a photo of it, as during that two guys drove by and asked if she was a “terrorist.” She just said, “Nah,” and they said, “Okay…”
[more unusual outside of Terminal 5 were the two metal detectors under the marquee. This created a huge line – and it’s not like these Canadians have particularly dangerous fans…]
Why anyone would think that the tall, very redheaded Canadian Case would be a terrorist is puzzling, but she is a major force on stage for the band. Indeed, her own solo career (QRO live review) might just be bigger than The New Pornographers, but for this show she was not only flanked by Newman and supported by keyboardist (and solo artist in her own right – QRO solo album review) Kathryn Calder, but also singer/violinist Simi Stone, who was basically filling the stage spot of Bejar. Only she didn’t leave the stage when she wasn’t singing lead on her own songs like Bejar did on the last tour (QRO live review), but instead it made for a “triple female vocal attack,” as Newman described when saying how into it he was. He even noted that ABBA only had two, quickly adding that he wasn’t throwing shade at ABBA (pointing out that the likes of Brooklyn Vegan would run with it as a new music feud…).
Highlights of the show included the opening one-two-three of “Attractions”, “Laws”, and “Twin Cinema”, Whiteout’s “This Is the World of the Theater”, Brill’s “Dancehall Domine” and title track (this was not a show where the most recent-but-one album got forgotten), staples such as “All the Old Showstoppers” and encore return “Challengers” (both from 2007’s Challengers – QRO review), “Sweet Talk, Sweet Talk” (from 2010’s Together – QRO review), and classics like Twin’s “Sing Me Spanish Techno” & closer “The Bleeding Heart Show”, and Electric’s “Testament To Youth In Verse”, and Romantic’s prognosticating “Fake Headlines”.
The New Pornographers continue on, on this tour, and continue on delivering.