The New Pornographers @ The Zoo, 09-11-2010

It always annoys me whenever a New Pornographers tour is announced and the first comments on any forum always concentrate on whether Neko Case is touring with them this time around, as if she is the whole raison d’être for the band and the sole focal point.  It’s a bit disrespectful to and unfair on the rest of the band, especially AC Newman who writes the bulk of the songs.  By comparison Neko Case seems to turns up to the sing a few songs in the studio and then if she’s not doing anything else and fancies it, head out on tour with the band.  Having said all that it is good to see her; she plays a mean tambourine, obviously adds to the wall of vocals and acts of a between-song foil to Newman.  But having seen the band both with and without her, they more than hold up without her.

Tonight the band are really badly jet-lagged, after a 30 hour trip to get to Brisbane, and it shows.  The sluggishness, which is amplified in the between-songs banter, when you get a real sense that the band would probably much rather be asleep rather than doing their very best to fight against waves of acute tiredness.  Their cause isn’t helped by a sound mix which is all over the place and varies from song-to-song.  In some songs the bass is way too high in the mix, drowning out everything else, in others it’s Todd Fancey’s lead guitar and, even worse, it’s sometimes the balance between the vocals, which results in some very uneven harmonies and counterpoint vocal melodies.  It’s a real shame, even though the band have enough good songs and enough good humour to get through the set.

I’m lucky enough to see the band a month later in the UK at the ATP Bowlie 2 weekend at Minehead and it’s a completely different story.  Completely re-energised and re-vitalised and with the benefit of decent sound and a much better mix, they’re one of the highlights of the weekend.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.