posted on April 04, 2007 03:00
Having loved their latest album "Wincing The Night Away", we went to see The Shins live at the Elysee Montmartre last Sunday night. It was fairly boring, a big disappointment.
In truth, I should have expected as much when lead singer James Mercer came on stage - short hair, trimmed beard and shirt-and-tie set making him look like Babydaddy's brother in the civil service. Finicky retuning between every song, almost no interaction with the audience (it was his lackeys - sorry, bandmates - who fulfilled that obligation) - in short, the image of a humourless muso completely at variance with the joyous, romantic impression his lyrics and melodies give.
The concert opened with the first four songs off the album, in the same order and reproduced note-for-note - always a sign of overseriousness at work. The huge crowd (about a thousand people, I guess) seemed fairly sedate from where I was standing - only a rockin' encore cover of 'Girlfriend' by Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers brought people to life i.e. a bit of jumping and excitement.
But then, Richman is a master live performer who writes all his songs with a view to entertaining a concert audience. By contrast, The Shins seemed to think they were playing in the Louvre and we would just watch in reverential awe. Only guitarist Dave Hernandez seemed to get into the rock n'roll spirit - pulling rawk poses, talking to the crowd and (best of all) chopping out some killer riffs. I'd like to see HIS band if he ever has one.
And it was all over at 10pm! Now I know there are curfews in some Paris venues but it didn't help dispel the final verdict of a thoroughly boring night out. So out we spilled onto Pigalle, the seediest street in Paris, like leaving midnight mass in Temple Bar.
The concert was filmed for eventual DVD release - probably with the title "Yawning The Early Evening Away". Get the album; leave the tickets.
Anyway, you can judge for yourself - here's 'New Slang' (the song that Natalie Portman in the film 'Garden State' says will change your life) live from the Elysee Montmartre last Sunday: