Monday, April 23, 2007

Modest Mouse Last Friday at The Orpeum Theater


Paper Thin Walls
Bury Me With It
Missed The Boat
Life Like Weeds
Black Cadillacs
Doin' The Cockroach
Fire It Up
Float On
The View
We've Got Everything
Tiny Cities Made Of Ashes
Little Motel

So, fresh off their new album ‘We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank’ debuting at #1 on the Billboard chart, the lads from Modest Mouse, with new member Johnny Marr in tow, stormed into The Orpheum on Friday to play what was supposed to be a two night residency in Minneapolis (more on the supposed to be later). And what a Perfect Storm it was, complete with ship lanterns adorning the stage. I settled into my Orchestra Row 2 seat, anxious to see this band that I first saw at the 400 Bar years ago, in a more elaborate theater setting. Modest Mouse has always preferred to play it loose in their live show, extending songs into lengthy jams that hardly resemble the original track, while also shortening their radio hits into concise maelstroms that make it hard for ‘the kids’ to sing along. Starting with ‘Paper Thin Walls’ from the excellent Moon & Antarctica album definitely got the party started right with the lyrics ringing true-‘Everyone’s a voyeurist, they’re watching me watch them watch me right now’. And indeed we were watching them-and, with my seat directly in front of guitarist Johnny Marr, I couldn’t help but stare at one of the true legends of English rock, and wonder how he was going to modify one of my favorite bands sound. They didn’t waste much time getting to their ‘hit single’ from the new record, ‘Dashboard’ that seemed to be played twice as fast as the recorded version, with their sound truly being fleshed out with Johnny’s added guitar work. While lead singer Issac Brock tends to be a very untethered and experimental guitar player, Johnny is more refined and inimitable, adding a very polished sound to such shambolic classics like ‘Dramamine’ ‘Doin’ The Cockroach’ and ‘Tiny Cities Made Of Ashes.’ Issac and Johnny played off each other all night, with Issac being so confident in Johnny’s guitar-work that he was able to lose himself more in the lyrics, adding improvised lyrics to songs while the rest of the band riffed along with him. Seeing the banjo on stage clued me in that we might hear ‘Bukowski,’ and the band didn’t disappoint-playing a fantastic rendition of what has to certainly be my favorite song about a favorite writer by a favorite band ever-it’s a short list. While the band seemed to stick with newer songs from their last two records, the sound was tighter and augmented by the new lineup. ‘The View’ was much more vibrant and chaotic than the recorded version, while ‘Float On’ was helped especially by Johnny’s intricate fretwork, not that the song needs any help to get 3000 people moving and singing along. ‘Cockroach’ was epic, a 12 minute freak out that had the entire theatre dancing. And the songs played from the new record make you aware of how much Issac has progressed as a songwriter, it’s not all about driving and being broke now, there’s ships and drowning to think about. Anyone who truly loves Modest Mouse should not begrudge them their recent success-who wouldn’t want them to sell records and play to full theaters every night? They need to make a living, right. So, this show ended with a fantastic version of ‘Tiny Cities’ and an extended blowout on 'Education' that left the crowd buzzing and wanting more. Thankfully, I had front row tickets to see the show Saturday. However, claiming ‘illness’(Bassist Eric Judy was apparently ill) the band canceled the show, disappointing everyone who read ‘postponed’ on the marquee. No word yet on a rescheduled show, but they owe us big time, and until that show, I’ll have to let the energy of Friday’s excellent show keep me afloat.

-Erik T

More Pics to come soon!!

Thanks Erik for another excellent review!!! Sorry about the second show canceling. I really wish I was right in front of Johnny Marr.. Erik will be writing a review for the Bright Eyes show April 25th. Stay Tuned.