The New Pornographers
The Riviera Theatre – Chicago, IL
The sold-out Riviera Theatre hosted indie favorites the New Pornographers and opener Okkervil River on Sunday. I arrived just in time to miss the entire Okkervil set, including the live rendition of “Plus Ones” that may have woven another brilliant song reference into the tightly knit lyrics. The absence of Destroyer frontman and quasi New Pornos member, Dan Bejar, as well as Neko Case, who recently injured her foot, took some of the excitement away. Regardless, the crowd was extremely pleased with the show, and I was content with a 70-minute set led by AC Newman.
2500 fans filled the Riviera’s grandeur, a truly beautiful venue that lacks sensible viewing for fans stuck behind rows and rows of people. Sponsor WXRT introduced the New Pornographers, “Chicago’s running out of places to contain this band, selling out the Abbey, the Metro, and now the Riv.” The band emerged and immediately launched into “Heaven and Earth,” “Use It,” and “Stacked Crooked,” before embracing the audience. Three comical takes were needed to get “Old Showstoppers” down. AC Newman seemed to be in high spirits, as he and the band often are, swaying and smiling throughout the show. The crowd, which was a bit older than most shows I’ve seen, was having a lot of fun as well.
Sonically, the loss of Neko Case was unnoticeable, however, having only one of three powerhouses on the stage wasn’t as cool. The set didn’t seem to be altered to compensate for no Neko, songs like “Challengers” and Unguided” were simply performed by the cuter, breathier (though not as good vocally) Kathryn Calder. The 6-piece line-up peaked during the crowd pleaser “Mass Romantic,” “The Bleeding Heart Show,” and the Challengers-highlight, “Myriad Harbour.” On “Myriad,” AC thanked Okkervil for the fun together thus far on this “awesome tour,” and welcomed frontman Will Sheff to fill-in for Bejar’s substantial part, making for the best song of the night. Rivaling “Myriad Harbour” for the most fun was the encore cover of the Electric Light Orchestra’s 1979 hit, “Don’t Bring Me Down.”
Did anyone else see Todd Barry backstage or was that a look-a-like?
And, two: What was the reason for touring at this time? (I’m certainly not complaining)
Here’s the Set
1) All of the Things That Go To Make Heaven and Earth
2) Use It
3) Stacked Crooked
4) Old Showstoppers
5) My Rights Versus Yours
6) The Laws Have Changed
7) Twin Cinema
9) Electric Version
10) Testament To Youth In Verse
12) Mass Romantic
13) Adventures In Solitude
14) Myriad Harbour
15) Sing me Spanish techno
16) The Bleeding Heart Show
17) Don’t Bring Me Down (Electric Light Orchestra cover)
18) Slow Descent Into Alcoholism