BY TIM HINELY
Scotland’s Camera Obscura came on at 9:15 PM sharp, following an early opening set by Marissa Nadler which I was unable to arrive in time for. It’s hard to believe that they’ve been at this pop game for 17 years but they have (though they only see m to manage a record every three years…I want MORE dammit!) though they are one of the Scottish bands who tour pretty regularly over here (I had seen them five times previously in Portland in the past decade). It’s the same five who’ve been in the band for years (leader/guitarist/vocalist Tracyanne Campbell on vocals/guitar, keyboardist Carey Lander, guitarist Kenny McKeeve, bassist Gavin Dunbar and drummer Lee Thomson) plus an added keyboardist/pedal steel player and a percussionist/trumpeter. The packed crowd was hungry for some soaring pop and the band delivered and quite nicely I might add (being the old pros that they are).
Opening with “Do It Again” (the single off their latest LP, Desire Lines) and from there playing a good chunk of new record (including “Troublemaker,” “New Year’s Resolution” and the title track) though they did dip into their terrific back catalog quite a bit as well. They broke out their now-classic Lloyd I’m Ready to be Heartbroken” about mid-set as well as the title track from the record that was on “Let’s Get Out of this Country” and ended the set with a stunning version of “Come Back Margaret’ from the same record. The left the stage but the Denver crowd was not to be denied as they demanded the band come back out for an encore, which they did for three of them. One being a quiet, acoustic song which Tracyanne dedicated to Marisa Nadler then they leapt right into “French Navy” (off 2009’s My Maudlin Career”) and off they walked into the night.
The knock on this band from the beginning is the same, “great records but boring live show.” I disagree. When I go to see C.O. I see a band practicing their songcraft and that is certainly something I can appreciate. Sure, they seem to be introverted folks (as a pal of mine said re: them, “5 introverts do not a good band make”) and their live3 versions of songs don’t stray too far from their studio versions, but I’m going to hear these beautifully written pop songs and that’s exactly what I got. Seeing as though Tracyanne Campbell appeared to be quite pregnant (I’ve heard she’s six months) this could be their last tour for quite some time, but again, if (big if?) they do decide to tour again, you can bet I’ll be there.