Tuesday, November 13, 2012

AC Newman @ Biltmore -- 11/08/12

Arguably one of Canada's best songwriters, Carl Newman is probably best known as from The New Pornographers. But he's also juggled a solo career under the moniker A.C. Newman, and hot off the heels of his third album, Shut Down The Streets, Newman returns to his hometown of Vancouver for a show as part of the Exclaim! 20th Anniversary Concert Series

First up was Omaha's The Mynabirds, lead by the strong voice of singer-songwriter Laura Burhenn. She was joined by Rebecca Marie Miller on backup vocals, and a few others to round out the band.
When they started, the floor in front of the stage was empty, but they soon drew people in with a catchy rock sound, with hints of both country and blues influences, and near the end of their set they even got some audience participation in the form of a call-and-response with the song "Generals".
They put on a really good set, and I will definitely be interested in hearing more from them in the future.

The Mynabirds were just ending their stint as Newman's opening act, and they figuratively passed the baton on to the next band of the night, Harriet, who were supporting the next leg of the tour. They had a synth driven rock sound, and they weren't bad, but nothing really stuck out. The songs were all pretty straightforward and decent, but there wasn't much that demanded attention.

And finally, AC Newman took the stage, joined by a full band that included a couple familiar faces, Megan Bradfield (Limblifter) and Paul Rigby (Neko Case), and a variety of instruments -- clarinet, saxophone, banjo, flute, among others -- to flesh out the sound. The keyboard player (whose name I didn't catchy) was also incredibly animated, and quite possibly the most fun member of the band to watch.
Starting with "I'm Not Talking", the lead track of the new album, the set was full of Newman's catchy and clever songs, going from the soft and mellow "Drink To Me, Babe, Then" to the sharp and incredibly infectious "Like A Hitman, Like A Dancer", and weaving through Newman's three albums.
There was a bit of joking between songs, but not too much banter from Newman, as he just let the music speak for itself. Other highlights included the bouncing "Encyclopedia of Classic Takedowns" and the punchy and upbeat "Miracle Drug", which ended the main set. Newman, of course, came back for three more, ending the night with another older track, the grooving "The Town Halo".

AC Newman, unsurprisingly, put on a strong show, and hopefully it isn't his last solo tour, as rumours seem to be implying.

I'm Not Talking; The Palace at 4am; On the Table; Encyclopedia of Classic Takedowns; Prophets; Strings; Get Guilty; You Could Get Lost Out There; Drink To Me, Babe, Then; Do Your Own Time; They Should Have Shut Down the Streets; Like A Hitman, Like A Dancer; Come Crash; The Heartbreak Rides; Hostages; Miracle drug. 
(encore) There's Money in New Wave; Secretarial; Town Halo. 

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