ANYWAY, The New Pornographers. We did have a Porn sighting in the bar prior to the show: Carl Newman (who, as far as I know, only uses A.C. for his solo work) was in the bar, sitting, I kid you not, just inside the front door. Blaine Thurier was hanging out too, as was Kurt Dahle (the only three original Pornographers in the house). DeepToej observed in this space that Newman resembles a Regis boy: he does indeed. In a pre-show conversation about the relative hotness of Dan Bejar, DeepToej uttered the utterly dismissive "He looks like he went to high school with girls." Ouch!
I was impressed enough that Thurier was watching the opening act, Green Milk, a psychedelic pop outfit from Japan who were humorous (I hope intentionally) and catchy and droning (I assume intentionally) by turns. But I was amazed when Newman crawled behind the sales table and started laying out t-shirts. I went over to get one and spoke with him for a minute: he was in a phlegmatic panic when I asked for an XL, and managed to talk me into a large before confessing that he didn't actually know where the XLs were. "They're really big, though. See?" Heh. It'll never go around Thers's shoulders, so I guess it's mine. An odd encounter. I told him I was looking forward to the show, and he said "thanks" kind of nervously.
This was explained when they went on: "This is our first show in over a year," Newman said. "Well no, our second. We played here last night, but we sucked." He also begged the crowd to buy him a drink ("I don't mean to mooch. If I could leave stage for five minutes, I'd do it," he explained. The band debated the merits of launching into the instrumental "Wipeout" before it was revealed that there was 12 pack hidden onstage. Danger averted. Thers pointed out the difference between this and Guided by Voices, who routinely passed around a bottle of Jack Daniels onstage.) He also apologized for spitting on the crowd unintentionally, and when someone (a guy) yelled out "It's sexy!" he was amused. "So that's okay then."
WARNING: Geeks only need read this paragraph. Set List: It's Only Divine Right/Graceland/The End of Medicine/Use It (off the new CD, Twin Cinema)/Out from Blown Speakers/The Bleeding Heart Show (also TC)/Jackie/Mass Romantic/Sing Me Spanish Techno (TC)/The Electric Version/Testament to Youth in Verse/Star Bodies (TC)/The Laws Have Changed/Bones of an Idol (TC)/The Body Says No/Twin Cinema (TC)/Fake Headlines/All for Swinging You Around/Slow Descent into Alcoholism. Encore: Miss Teen Wordpower/Execution Day/ a scrap of Springsteen's I'm on Fire/Letter from an Occupant.
I'm pretty sure that's complete, though I might have missed one.
Worth noting: No Neko. One might have assumed this meant that they'd skip "Mass Romantic" and "The Laws Have Changed" and "All for Swinging You Around" and "Letter from an Occupant." (Plus the yet-to-be-released "Bones of an Idol") No. Newman's niece Kathryn Calder was onstage, and she had the notes, if not the presence, of Neko. She looked kind of scared, truth to be told, but shit. Who wouldn't be? I thought she did a respectable job, but my companion V., who's seen them before, says what was really lacking was the interplay among the heavy hitters, the banter. Without Neko and Dan Bejar, it still sounds good, but it really is the Carl Newman Show.
I'm told I need to see the real lineup to understand what I was missing last night, and I'll cheerfully go along to any TNP event, pretty much ever. All in all, a good night.
By the way, Happy Birthday Codename V.!