Canadian indie rockers, The New Pornographers, delighted their Adelaide audience by performing a diverse set of songs that were selected widely from all eight of the studio albums the band have released to date.
Since 2000, when their first album, Mass Romantic, was issued, the band have cultivated a following of die-hard fans who fully appreciate the accomplished musical collective’s particular brand of rhythmic, melodic rock which is built around incessantly addictive musical hook-lines and slightly off-centre lyrical reflections on life.
Playing in The Workshop, under the Festival Centre, the band seemed inspired by the surrealistic jungle themed surroundings they found themselves amongst. Iconic singer/songwriter and regular band contributor, Neko Case, declared it to be one of the most beautiful venues she had ever had the privilege in which to play.
The sound was clear and the sight lines were good, so let’s hope this space is used more often for niche bands to use as avenue when they come to town.
Kicking off with Falling Down The Stairs Of Your Smile, from their latest album, In The Morse Code Of Brake Lights, all seven New Pornographers fell immediately into synch, their pitch perfect vocal harmonies and unique rhythmic patterns embracing us all as they rolled out across the crowd.
Throughout a set which extended well past the advertised length of performance, six numbers from the newest record blended seamlessly with their classic earlier material.
Band leader, A.C. Newman, possesses a voice that is plaintive and deceptively gentle – not unlike Colin Meloy of The Decemberists at times – and he interweaves his vocals into complex vocal harmonies with his bandmates, effectively dipping in and out of the band’s catalogue of beautifully crafted songs.
The band boast four singers who all have their own recording careers outside of the group, so it is not surprising that the quality of the singing is never less than first rate.
There were many specific highlights throughout the show. It was great to finally hear songs of the calibre of Sweet Talk Sweet Talk, Whiteout Conditions, Brill Bruisers and Challengers live for the first time, but, for me, a spine-chillingly delicate rendition of Adventures In Solitude was the most sublime of all, and old favourites, like Mass Romantic, Use It and The Bones Of An Idol, served to remind us all that this band have never put out a lacklustre release.
The three hundred or so souls who made the effort to attend this show will all have come away happy and impressed. It was a gig that will rank amongst the very best of the year.
By: Ken Grady
Rating: 5 stars
The New Pornographers appeared at the 2020 Adelaide Festival, performing at The Workshop in the Adelaide Festival Centre on Sunday 1 March 2020.