Monday, October 2, 2017

The Shins at The Greek - September 29, 2017

It was my fourth time to see The Shins and what better way than on a gorgeous night under the stars at The Greek. Nestled in the gentle hills of Griffith Park and surrounded by a thrilled audience as pleased as I was to see this 21 year old band still playing at the top of their game, it was an evening to treasure.

In March at El Rey
I was very lucky when I scored a ticket to one of their early inaugural dates at El Rey this past March 10th and enjoyed hearing the newest album in its entirety, but couldn't help but notice that lead singer James Mercer seemed to either have a cold or he was no longer able to hit the high notes that characterize so many of their songs. The show was still good, though it made me appreciate the terrible choices a band has to make when one member is under the weather and they don't want to disappoint their fans by cancelling or by performing at less then their usual quality level.

Fortunately this band is so tight that the show came off as entirely successful, matched by the herculean effort by Mercer to stay on top of it, and the obvious excitement of playing all these great new songs. When this show at The Greek was announced, I knew I wanted to attend, and since I was able to score a ticket in the first row of Section B, right behind the sound booth with a clear, unobstructed view of the stage, I went for it.

I am so glad I did because it was immediately apparent that Mercer was in fine shape and his voice remains as supple and flexible as ever. And this show was like a compilation of greatest hits as they plucked tunes from their entire catalog. Opening with an early favorite "Caring Is Creepy" from their debut LP, Oh, Inverted World, they hopped, skipped, and jumped through all five of their albums.

Their 2003 album, Chutes Too Narrow, was my introduction to the band and I was so happy they played so much of it; "Kissing The Lipless', 'Mine's Not A High Horse", "Gone For Good", and "Saint Simon", all superbly reproduced. Highlights for me also included "Phantom Limb" from Wincing the Night Away, and "Simple Song" from Port Of Morrow.

As was the case at El Rey in March, they put on a stunning visual show to go along with the fully engaging music. Mercer even wore the same shirt. Surrounded by the huge paper flowers that adorn the latest album art, the dynamic lighting transformed the stage into a constantly changing kaleidoscope of shapes and colors, which slowly revealed the image of a skull hovering in the backdrop.

Adding to the enjoyment of the evening was that I took advantage of the LADOT shuttle service to and from the Vermont/Sunset subway station which makes for an entirely stress-free commute to the venue. No more walking up that giant hill to The Greek for me.