Thursday, June 18, 2009

Phoenix Played The Paradise - Pictures, Review, Setlist

For the last year here at HAD, we've been more than mildly obsessed with Phoenix. To be frank, their catalog of records is some of the most refreshing music we've heard in a long, long time. What's more, the band, on the verge of releasing a new record, delivered an SNL performance this spring that blew our minds. Needless to say, then, that we went into last night's show at The Paradise with extremely high expectations. The amazing thing is that at the end of the day, we got even more than we had hoped for.

The band delivered a set that seemed to defy reality with its quality, and expertly pull from all corners of their catalog. Frankly, it's been a long time since we've heard a crowd be so psyched for a band song, after song, after song. Not only did the crowd seem to be well versed in all four of the band's records, but there was equal appreciation for singles and album tracks alike. In short, it was a show for a packed room of enraptured fans who couldn't get enough of an amazing band.

The fantastic thing was that the admiraton was clearly mutual: the band was smiling for the entire show, and made no bones about interacting with the crowd. Whether encouraging the crowd to cheer into suspended microphones, leaning over into the audience, or Thomas Mars' walking into the crowd for a reprise of "1901" at the end of the set, the band was more than happy to interact with the fans for the duration.

All that we've said so far has been our best effort to convey the excitement of last night, but there's even more praise to be had, for the most obviously crucial part of the set: the music. In brief, it was nothing short of spectacular, and satisfied everything we could have asked for. We've heard rumblings from some skeptics who thought the blazing SNL performance might have been fudged to sound better on TV. Let us assure, it was not: Phoenix has a level of technical aptitude and an ability to recreate their sound in a live environment that we would venture to say is almost unparalleled.

The set drew on the breadth of the band's catalog, but held a pretty strong focus on their last two records. This isn't surprising, given that those records have unquestionably offered up a more stable vision of what defines the "Phoenix Sound". Still, the first two records were represented (and much loved): the band delivered killer versions of "Too Young", "Funky Squaredance", "If I Ever Feel Better". Perhaps the highlight of the older material was a mind blowing version of "Run Run Run" that was bursting with electric rock and roll energy.

The material from the rest of the set served quite simply to illustrate how bulletproof the band's last two records have been. The tracks played out with an unrelenting catchiness that left you wondering how this band isn't the number one radio band in the world. The lull that can sometimes occur when bands delve into their lesser material simply wasn't there, because their was none to be had. Perhaps the only thing that could be considered a lull in the show was the instrumental section of "Love Like A Sunset", when Mars retired briefly to the floor as the band delivered the instrumental.

In addition to simply being a fantastic bunch of songs, it's also worth noting that the band doesn't just represent their studio sound well, they beef it up in a way that calls attention to the intricacies of their arrangements, and make them even more riotously awesome. The breakdowns and delivery on the record are multiplied in the live environment: "Rome" seethed with energy, "Lisztomania" was a ridiculously bouncy romp, and the tracks from It's Never Been Like That wore their rock heritage boldly on their sleeve (Our fave was "Sometimes In The Fall"). In short, the band hand crafted a room of smiling, dancing, sweaty people.

It's probably already pretty obvious, but just in case you're missing the point: the show blew our minds. If you've been on the fence about seeing the band, or wondering whether their live show can really live up to the hype, the answer to all of your questions is quite simply yes. Go see Phoenix now. Snag any chance you can get, because the next time they're here, it will be in a much bigger room, and everyone you know will love them. You may as well get a head start.

Long Distance Call

Consolation Prizes


Napoleon Says

Funky Square Dance




Love Like A Sunset
Run Run Run

Too Young

Sometimes In The Fall



If I Ever Feel Better


Many more pictures at the HAD Archive


Hanan said...

ah! I love Run Run Run! seriously, their catalogue is mindboggling. nice review and thanks for the set list =)