Sympathetic Stupid

Monday, January 08, 2007

I Remember Him Well

The Mountain Goats came back to town on Friday night. They were here last April and put on a show and a half. Apparently, this was no fluke, because John Darnielle and small company did it again.

Admittedly, the show wasn't quite as all-fired rousing as the last one. But this year's album, Get Lonely, is a different beast to The Sunset Tree; a contemplative, melancholy affair, as compared to the uplifting vibe and crashing peaks of its predecessor. It's harder to play these tunes to a room of 800 people. As John said, he has to play some rockin' ones to build up goodwill, before convincing people to shut up for a quiet one. Which are always great.

But the close of the (first) encore was even better. Closing with a very, very quiet one (was it Wild Sage? I forget), supported by just Peter Hughes' bass, no guitar. The audience were attentive but a little rowdy - a bit of "marry me, John" banter with everyone a comedian. The song was getting swamped in the general bonhomie. John stepped around the microphone to the front of the stage and continued singing, staring down the crowd, the full force of his will projecting through the fragile, barely-voiced lyrics. The Corner is a notoriously tough venue to shush, there's always that group around the mixing desk chatting amongst themselves.

The room went dead, DEAD silent. All eyes were on his face as the song continued, Hughes completely backgrounded by a consummate performer with hundreds of people wrapped around his little finger. For minutes, until the song reached its inevitable end. And then he was gone, disappearing off the stage in a blink.

There was another encore, The Best Ever Death Metal Band in Denton. John Vanderslice guested on guitar for a few tunes, adding increased energy but not heaps to the sound. Peter Hughes' bass was more alive than ever, bouncing and jerking him around the stage. It was just another great set from a great man and band.

You missed it? Bugger. Don't miss it next time. They're damn sure not getting worse.

[download the as-yet unreleased Michael Myers Resplendent from The Mountain Goats site]