Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Mew at the Henry Fonda - Dec. 14, 2009

An odd thing happened in the days leading up to this show. I had purchased the latest Mew album, No More Stories Are Told Today I'm Sorry They Washed Away No More Stories The World Is Grey I'm Tired Let's Wash Away, before their last show at the Troubadour in September. But it is not immediately accessible and it wasn't until I went back to it to prepare for the show at the Fonda that I perked up and realized, "This is really, really good". As much as I loved And The Glass Handed Kites, and thought it may be the ultimate Mew record, I found myself becoming increasingly obsessed with some cuts from No More Stories..., to the point that I wanted to hear them performed more than my former favorite Mew songs. I think this is a testament to the growth and extreme talent this band shows off effortlessly. And I think, on the strength of Monday's performance, they're only going to get better.

What a stunning show. I arrived after the first band had played and was surprised at the size of the crowd. It looked sold out to me. Being The Fonda, I still managed to get up close, and over on the side, which I prefer it it's super crowded, also to be able to see the singers around their microphones. And the crowd was one of the best audiences I've encountered at a big show. Courteous, attentive, worshipful (when called for) and a pleasure to be among. In contrast to the Troubadour show, now the audience knows the new material and greeted it with rapturous applause.

They didn't even play my favorite song from the new album, "Cartoons and Macrame Wounds", but I was still completely satisfied. Opening with "Hawaii" with it's shifting tempos and salsa rhythms which break away into their trademark thunder, the impossibly complex vocal patterns sent the crowd soaring from the very start. The developing density and complexity of the sophisticated songwriting is easily evident in "Vaccine" and "Sometimes Life Isn't Easy" The lyrics belie the fact that English is not their native language in their intelligence and poetry.

Of course they performed the crowd pleasers from Glass...Kites including the amazing opening song, "Circulation of the Wolf'", which they seamed to "Special", and "The Zookeeper's Boy. It's also a pleasure to watch Jonas Bjerre (seen above) sing with absolutely no nonsense. It seems so easy for him and his otherwordly demeanor only adds to the effectiveness. And to see how the band's four singers work together to ensure a perfect blending of voices , at just the right level. It's sublime to see and to hear.

Yes, they did make the Fonda vibrate as few bands can do, and, indeed the music can be overwhelmingly powerful, but it never, for an instant stops being supremely beautiful. Maybe some of the most beautiul music I've ever heard. With the addition of an extraordinary lightshow and film projections that are hypnotic and bizarre, even occasionally disturbing (the fiddle-playing cats come to mind, with their blinking eyes) the whole evening took on the feeling of grand theatre.


(Thanks to Kmetron for the great shots from Mew's show in Brussels)


Sevendsen said...

Watch the trailer for The zookeeper at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z75b19HbpL8

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