Before Chicago and Los Angeles dominated my travels, New York City reigned as my go-to rock tourism stop, thanks to the generosity and understanding of friends who live in the area. Lately, though, the visits have been fleeting, so it felt great to settle in for several days and for the second British Sea Power show on my schedule.
British Sea Power, Bowery Ballroom, May 10, 2008: There's a considerable flip side to seeing shows in New York, however. Firstly, when you're used to intimate spaces, the clubs here tend to dwarf comparable venues in other cities, then you have the preponderance of lame scenesters or jaded industry folks. Thankfully, the latter concern has been less prominent these days, probably because I don't see many buzz bands anymore (did I ever?).
Bowery Ballroom, however, remains the hallowed hall where I lived out several memorable moments, including a cameo appearance in the pages of the late Melody Maker, as well as an impromptu guest slot on the sleigh bells. Sigh. Even without those recollections, I fell in love with the room all over again as soon as we hiked up the stairs from the bar.
If last night's look tipped its hat ever so slightly to early 20th-century Russia (barely--I'm stretching here), tonight's wardrobe choices were directly influenced by the world of sport, Yan professed early on. Both Yan and Hamilton wore headbands, though more in the early-'90s Hillary Clinton vein than, say, Bjorn Borg. Meanwhile, Yan and Phil had kitted up in soccer jerseys (I think?), and the back of Nobby's shirt was marked with a large piece of tape bearing another player's name. Yan actually furnished further details on who was who, but they flew right over my head. Sorry!
Tonight's setlist change-ups included the return of "Remember Me" (like I'm ever going to complain about that one) and "Leaving Home," the first time I've heard it in my handful of shows on this tour. The latter provided a nice reminder of how Hamilton's songwriting has progressed from mellower numbers to the rockers and anthems on the new album. Then again, I love it all.
When I saw British Sea Power earlier in this tour, we got a couple of relatively well-behaved shows, which proved to me they can still make my head swim with reverb and melody sans the hijinks. The last two months of incessant playbacks on the iPod further drives home that point.
But after the follies in Philly, I have to admit that, though I remained floating, I hovered a little closer to the ground following the Bowery show. As Paul pointed out, they were technically better tonight in New York City--the aforementioned "Remember Me" was blistering, "The Great Skua" held us rapt, and I know I heard voices singing along to "Carrion." But I have to admit that I missed the raw mischief, though I have absolutely no complaints about the rest of the show. It's not often that you get to see a band who can soar both musically and physically. Can you blame me for wanting to get my fix?
Note: You can download an excellent recording of the show from nyctaper.
» we're going on a trip out
» your winter overture
» fans of alcohol
» Download the show from nyctaper.com