Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz
The New Pornographers have been referred to as an indie pop supergroup, although it's more like band members have other musical projects, though none rising to the popularity of this group. And two of the mainstays – Neko Case (she has the most prominent career of any of the band members) and Carl (aka AC) Newman – have their own longstanding solo careers.
Whatever their situation outside the band, The New Pornographers were a taut, engaging and well-crafted band in concert on a tour supporting their new, well-regarded CD, "Continue As a Guest."
There was quite a lot to like about the show. There seemed to be a new wrinkle almost every song in a setlist covering all nine of their albums. Some songs may have started with an instrumental stretch. Others were characterized by a steady build to a climax. And this was a group effort when it came to vocals.
Newman, Case and Kathryn Calder with Newman and Case assuming most of the leads. Case may have had the best voice of the three, but all were worthy singers with the lead singer often backed by the other two. And sometimes a few other band members kicked in. There's a lot of vocal fire power when five singers are at it.
The sonics constantly shifted as well from a more commercial pop sound to rock, ensuring that this was never going to be dull musically.
While most of the focus was on Newman, Case and Calder, this was a dynamic, true total band effort. Zach Djanikia who plays on the new record, was a powerhouse on keyboards and more importantly saxophone. He added just the right touches whether being prominent or understated. Drummer Jeff Seiders set a very steady and sturdy beat on the skins throughout. He also coupled with bassist John Collins to anchor a muscular, but not overpowering rhythm section.
Guitarist Todd Fancey may have been physically in the background, but he played more of a prominent role as the night wore on.
Every band member had a role to play.
To call The New Pornographers a supergroup may a bit of a misnomer. However, just label them as super on this night.
The musically compatible Wild Pink from New York opened with a satisfying set. What the quartet lacked in charisma (little chatter and certainly not engaging beyond the usual), they made up for musically during their 45-minute set. They had a bunch of quality songs with crescendos and like the headliners, well put together. Guitarist Mike Brenner, who was on slide guitar and seated throughout, was a particular standout, often coloring the songs just so.