Tight and bright. That's a good model for writing, and it's how The New Pornographers perform in concert.
The Vancouver collective stayed true to the taut, effervescent melodies scattered throughout their five studio albums during a sold-out performance April 22 at The Vogue. It was what fans clearly wanted and expected. They were not disappointed.
About a week into the Pornographers' latest run behind last year's Together, they opened with a cover of The Shocking Blue's "Shocking You," which failed to live up to its name. The second song however, Together's "Moves," jostled the crowd into motion.
The New Pornographers drew most of their material for the 20-song set, with five songs each from Together and 2005's Twin Cinema, though every album was represented. New tracks, like the crescendo-ing"Sweet Talk, Sweet Talk" and the impossible-to-clap-to "Your Hands (Together)," drew the most rousing response. Older gems like the relentlessly upbeat "The Laws Have Changed" and "Twin Cinema," with its crunchy power chords with falsetto harmony structure, also enjoyed a charge. The proceedings didn't slow until the Pornographers played the lullaby-like "Adventures in Solitude" 10 songs deep.
They could've closed with "The Bleeding Heart Show," a secular gospel number of celestial heights that's the closest I may ever get to heaven. Instead they returned with three more tracks, including the hushed "Challengers" and the bouncy "Up in the Dark."
The Walkmen, who themselves headlined The Vogue last year, did a capable job of warming up the audience. With a retro jangle and a drummer who's mastered the art of rolling drum fills, they sound like an edgier version of The Monkees. The new cuts "Woe is Me," with its classic guitar line, and the undulating crash and bash of "Angela Surf City" expand on the promise The Walkmen displayed with the piano-heavy waltz "We've Been Had" off their 2002 debut, which they also performed.