Selling out a venue –
NYC’s Radio City Music Hall,
on March 26 -that two months prior had Lady GaGa playing to the same-capacity
crowd, Britt Daniel & Co. struck one
for the little guy.
By Zachary Herrmann
“This place is alright, huh?” Britt Daniel said about midway
through Spoon’s set at the lavish Radio City Music Hall. Though not quite as
humbled by the indoor behemoth of a theater as opener Deerhunter seemed to be,
Daniel wasn’t above acknowledging just how far Spoon had come along.
“I think we are the band that played the most shows at
Brownies that ended up playing Radio City Music Hall,”
Daniel offered, in reference to the East
they had gigged in their (relative) youths. But it didn’t feel like Daniels and
Co. put one over on the mainstream. With a near career-spanning set (sorry, no Series of Sneaks cuts, but really, is
that such a loss at this point?), the band tore through 24 songs in nearly 95
minutes, playing like the veteran rock musicians they have gradually become.
“Put on a clinic” indeed. In New York, even Spoon is bigger
– in addition to auxiliary member Stephen Patterson (White Rabbits), the band
marched out a six-piece horn section (absent from the rest of the tour), not to
mention a couple of surprise guests.
The band’s studio record further cemented by this year’s Transference, you get the feeling that
if Spoon wanted to, the group could get a way with a lot less as live
performers. Hell, plenty of bands (especially in the “indie rock” realm) do it
all the time. Show up, play through whatever’s new, toss in a couple
oldies-but-goodies, 65 minutes and done.
Thanks to New York magazine’s Vulture
Blog we now know Daniel and Co. put a lot of thought into how they
structure a set. The guys really do care! Still, who could have predicted the
fast one Spoon pulled by putting Daniel out there solo, bathed in spotlight for
an acoustic take on “Me and the Bean”?
Eric Harvey then joined him for a two-man rendition of “The
Mystery Zone”, and just as the flashes of Stop
Making Sense started to run wild, the full group strutted out “Written in
Reverse” in all its raucous, gleeful fashion.
Like The Rolling Stones before them (I know, I know), Spoon
has that uncanny ability to fluctuate between sentimental and sinister without
batting an eye, sometimes in the same song. For all the “Life could be so fair/
Let it go on along” Wall of Sound optimism in “You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb” (love
those horns…), there’s the downright bleak forecast of “Don’t Make Me a
Target”, or the rolling, ominous tides of “My Mathematical Mind”.
It’s exactly that split dynamic that allows Spoon so much
versatility in a live setting, which is a curious thing for a band that often
catches flack for sounding too much like, well, Spoon. They were completely at
home in The Damned’s monochromatic (but affecting) “Love Song”. Or, when joined
by Eleanor Friedburger of Fiery Furnaces, able to underscore the blue-eyed soul
tinges of “Waiting To Know You”, just as Friedburger found the sass in “Someone
Something” when taking the reins on the Spoon song.
Dan Boeckner of Wolf Parade also put in appearance, doing a
nice run through of his band’s “Modern World” before adding a much-appreciated
third guitar to “I Saw The Light”. Between the guests, horns and Patterson, Spoon
had no trouble filling the cavernous music hall, though Daniel’s frantic guitar
seemed capable enough of doing it alone.
He may not be one of the most technically gifted of
guitarists (nor is Spoon a group of virtuoso musicians), but he, and everyone
else in the band, knows how to play the hell of out of their instruments. They
understand the importance of sound structure in the studio and in a live
setting. Hence why “Small Stakes”, a well-received closer, or “Ghost of You
Lingers” sound so much richer live than they do on album.
Different settings require different efforts, and as it was
Spoon’s first time at Radio
Hall (full disclosure: it was mine too), forgive
them if they went above and beyond. Selling out a venue that two months prior
had Lady GaGa playing to the same-capacity crowd, Spoon struck one for the
little guy. You’re only as big as you play, and by that logic, last Friday
night, Spoon was huge.
and the Bean (Britt Daniel solo)
Mystery Zone (Daniel and Eric Harvey)
Make Me a Target
of You Lingers
Song (The Damned cover)
To Know You (Fiery Furnaces cover w/ Eleanor Friedberger)
Something (w/ Friedberger)
and Dragon Adored
Gets Me But You
Yr. Cherry Bomb (w/ horns)
& Soul (w/ horns)
Fisk (w/ horns)
Underdog (w/ horns)
– Encore 1 –
(Wolf Parade cover w/ Dan Boeckner)
I Saw The
Light (w/ Boeckner)
– Encore 2 –
[Photo Credit: Autumn DeWilde]