The New Pornographers – Live

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The New Pornographers : Live

The New Pornographers : Live


A line stretched down 34th Street in Manhattan on a cold Monday night, November 17th, as fans lined up for The New Pornographers at Hammerstein Ballroom. The sometimes-music venue (QRO venue review) seemed to be understaffed, not just outside with not enough security at the entrance, but also inside with only half of their usual bars open, leading to more lines inside. Hammerstein just wasn’t ready for how many people like The New Pornographers.

And they’re an exceedingly likable band, in the right way. Their power-pop shines without being shiny, and is clever without being too clever by half. The Vancouver outfit is actually something of a super-group, containing the likes of A.C. Newman (QRO solo album review), Dan Bejar (a.k.a. Destroyer – QRO album review), Neko Case (QRO solo live review), and Kathryn Calder (QRO solo album review) – sort of a west coast version of countrymen contemporaries Broken Social Scene (QRO spotlight on). All those musicians has meant that The New Pornographers splits time with solo projects, as the group hadn’t toured much since 2010 (QRO live review of NYC stop), but both of Hammerstein’s balconies, as well as the general admission area, was full for them (seen in the crowd was Jason Sudeikis of Horrible Bosses 2 and Saturday Night Live, with SNL writer/former player Mike O’Brien).

The New Pornographers came to play to New Yorkers behind this year’s Brill Bruisers (QRO review), a record named after a song named after the Big Apple’s famed Brill Building (home of such musical luminaries as Burt Bacharach and Darlene Love). “Brill Bruisers” opened the night like it opens the album, but all six of the group’s records were represented on an extensive night that included two encores. Brill naturally got the lion’s share of the set list (see below), but with twenty-seven songs total (a virtue of starting relatively early, though that pushed strong opener The Pains of Being Pure at Heart to too early on a weeknight), they were able to include great earlier pieces like “Sweet Talk, Sweet Talk” from Together (QRO review), “All the Old Showstoppers” from Challengers (QRO review), “Sing Me Spanish Techno” from Twin Cinema, “Testament To Youth In Verse” from Electric Version, and “The Slow Descent Into Alcoholism” from debut Mass Romantic.

A.C. NewmanWhile there are always songs, especially older songs, that one wished that they had played (such as Together’s “Your Hands Together”, Challengers’ “My Rights Versus Yours”, Twin Cinema’s “Twin Cinema”, Electric Version’s “From Blown Speakers”, or Mass Romantic’s “Letter From an Occupant”), The New Pornographers have such upbeat power-pop pieces that the evening never dragged (witness the bars having no lines once the music started). It was a little odd to see Bejar disappear from the stage whenever they weren’t playing one of his songs (as most are written by Newman, that meant Bejar was missing for most of the time), and could have used more banter from Case – she mentioned something that ended with, “I’ll just beat your fucking ass…” in the charming way the woman “of a certain age” can (though nothing will beat her 2010 show ramble about crashing planes and being dumped).

It was an older crowd, as The New Pornographers in general aren’t spring chickens anymore (save keyboardist/Newman’s niece Calder), but the energy of youth and pop was definitely there in the crowd & on the stage.

Dan BejarSet list

  1. Brill Bruisers
  2. Myriad Harbour
  3. The Moves
  4. War On the East Coast
  5. Sing Me Spanish Techno
  6. The Crash Years
  7. All the Old Showstoppers
  8. Jackie, Dressed In Cobras
  9. Another Drug Deal of the Heart
  10. The Laws Have Changed
  11. You Tell Me Where
  12. Testament To Youth In Verse
  13. Wide Eyes
  14. Marching Orders
  15. Adventures In Solitude
  16. Jackie
  17. Sweet Talk, Sweet Talk
  18. Backstairs
  19. Silver Jenny Dollar
  20. Champions of Red Wine
  21. Born With a Sound
  22. Mass Romantic

Neko CaseEncore

  1. Challengers
  2. Dancehall Domine
  3. The Bleeding Heart Show

Second Encore

  1. Use It
  2. The Slow Descent Into Alcoholism

The New Pornographers

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