Thursday, December 10, 2009

Mew @ Metro (12/7/2009)

The first time I saw Mew in concert was at the Pitchfork Music Festival, where they played an abbreviated set (which is normal unless you're a headliner).  Being the fanboy that I am, I was eagerly anticipating seeing a proper Mew show, and had high hopes.  The band for the most part met expectations, though they did not significantly exceed them.

Tom and I showed up to Metro (a block away from Wrigley Field) about halfway into the opener's (All The Day Holiday) set.  Mew did not have a band touring with them during their brief North American jaunt, and instead chose to have bands audition to open for them in each city.  All The Day Holiday wasn't a bad choice, and I dug a couple of the songs I caught enough to give their album a listen yesterday.

We viewed the Mew set (the whole show, actually) from the upper balcony of the Metro.  The venue was a lot smaller than I expected.  This is generally a good thing, as it makes for a more "intimate" time with the band.  However, there were a couple of layers of people between us and the railing, so our view could have been better.

Their actual performance was pretty good.  They started off with four songs off And the Glass Handed Kites, including the trademark back-to-back "Special" (which I dedicated to Tom) and "The Zookeeper's Boy" move, followed by a couple from Frengers.  After this they rattled off five from my favorite album this year, No More Stories... (I'll spare you the full 23-word title), before finishing up the main set with one more oldie.  The encore was also heavy on Kites, with one from Stories, and one freaky interlude which featured a talking teddy bear.  I was quite surprised that they did not end the show with "Comforting Sounds", which seems to have been their standard closer (and what they closed with at Pitchfork).  "New Terrain", which seems like a natural opener (it was used this way at Pitchfork), was not played either.  You can find the full setlist here.

Speaking of freakishness, I would guess that a not insignificant portion of the crowd had nightmares that night after watching the videos projected during their set.  The images were by no means horrifying, but there were certainly some strange looking children or animals in most of them.  Jonas must have some weird things going on in that head of his...

Tom noted that Jonas looked "dainty" on stage, something he had not noticed during their Pitchfork performance because he was people-watching then.  At that show, Robert had described Jonas' stage persona as "meek".  I would agree more with the latter than the former, as I was not led to question Jonas' manhood in the way "dainty" connotes.  Strangely, though, I did think that he was a little less meek during this show than the last one.

So, what could have made the show better?  For one, the sound mixing seemed off on a few songs, during which I could barely hear Jonas' vocals.  This is a shame, as Tom describes his singing as "instrumental".  Bo could have also played a couple of the songs a little cleaner, though I can certainly understand the difficulty in reproducing the riffs used in "Introducing Palace Prayers" and "Repeaterbeater" in a live environment.  They had a couple of mini-jams (we all know that I don't like jams), but they were usually appropriate as intros or interludes - there wasn't a case where they just refused to end a song, which is one of my pet peeves.  They also left out a couple of my favorite songs: "An Envoy to the Open Fields" and "Cartoons And Macramé Wounds".

Overall, though, I was quite pleased.  If it wasn't for the freezing cold conditions and the fact that I had an early flight back to St. Louis the next morning, I would have insisted on waiting around afterward to try to meet the band.

4.6/5

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