The New Pornographers Live at The East Brunswick Club
Disregarding their steamy name, the super Canadian supergroup (not Broken Social Scene… the other one) are certainly reliable when it comes to a fun, storming live set. Sure, there were a few sound problems to combat in the early stages and the venue wasn’t quite heaving in capacity, but you always know what you’re getting with The New Pornographers – a great night out of power-pop songs. Try leaving one of their gigs without a wide grin plastered on your face; it just isn’t possible.
It’s especially exciting when Neko Case is part of the entourage – she has a magnetic presence despite looking like she has just rolled out of bed, all birds-nest hair and bleary eyes. Carl Newman is in good form too, though well aware he has a cooler, less sing-a-long crowd than he was treated to at the previous week’s gig at The Hi-Fi – there’s no exactly a mass chorus of “no, no, no’s” for Testament To Youth, for example. For The Hi-Fi gig, an audience member jumped up to do lead vocal on the Bejar number Myriad Harbour. Tonight, he waits eagerly at the front but the moment never happens.
Instead of repeating the same tricks, the band mix up the setlist – always a nice gesture when there a likely to be fans who will want to see both gigs – and it clearly helps to keep things fresh for the musicians too. So we get essential classics like The Slow Descent Into Alcoholism and Sing Me Spanish Techno, but also more obscure numbers such as some nicely judged audience requests and their contribution to the Dark Was The Night compilation, Hey, Snow White.
Perhaps the best surprise was how well all the material from their new album Together stood up against their finest work, particularly Your Hands (Together), A Bite Out Of My Bed and Sweet Talk, Sweet Talk.
So, yep, these Canadians sure are reliable. Reliably excellent.