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Manchester Orchestra / Kevin Devine: live in Hobokenlive in Hoboken (2008)
Reviewer Rating: 4
Contributed by: InaGreendaseBrian
(others by this writer | submit your own)
My friend Justin and I trekked through a Long Island Expressway soaking in falling rainwater that, to the point of typing this tonight, hasn't really completely ceased. All told, it was a three-and-a-half-hour drive, thanks in large part to delay after delay, a wrong turn or two and a two-lane crunc.
My friend Justin and I trekked through a Long Island Expressway soaking in falling rainwater that, to the point of typing this tonight, hasn't really completely ceased. All told, it was a three-and-a-half-hour drive, thanks in large part to delay after delay, a wrong turn or two and a two-lane crunch in the Holland Tunnel -- but no complaints here, since I was a passenger. You see, Justin's a pretty big Manchester Orchestra fan, which is why he was more than willing to make such a long weekday drive. It doesn't entirely surprise me, though. Maybe he appreciates frontman Andy Hull's unflinchingly honest lyrics; the band's wild dynamics; the emotionally heady delivery; after this set, probably their no-bullshit live show, all aggression and earnestness spilled out in genius four-minute bursts.
But that opening salvo. Christ. I thought for a moment they were playing through the entirety of their forthcoming effort, Mean Everything to Nothing. Overall, these songs definitely didn't have the same immediacy their previous stuff possessed, but it's definitely good. They have more straightforward rock vibes, yet they're much weirder and less dynamic...while being more dynamic, if that makes any sense. The first featured an absolutely intense change where Hull screamed some lyric I can't quite recall; "Can I Borrow $100," which is what I believe YouTubers titled it, had Hull demonically repeating Satan's name to open it; the third had Hull talking about "the woman I forced you to be"; the fourth featured some interesting Modest Mouse-esque harmonies, snaps and vocal styles at one point; "Shake It Out" was great; and the album's title track, which might've been the best. It was stupid catchy while retaining clear sincerity, with a weird waltz-ish / off-time plunk combo at one point. There were some serious themes in here: of forced apathy (sample lyrics, from separate songs: "I don't care. / I never have." and "I don't give a good shit.") and what seemed like Hull's conflicting faith (there were lots of references to prayer, and that previous "I don't care" lyric followed something about waiting for God to save).
There were lots of neat alterations and flourishes played with in the familiar songs. Woven interludes caught us by surprise as they lead to recognizable riffs, while they managed to slip Kevin Devine's "You'll Only End Up Joining Them" into an intense bridge for "Where Have You Been?".
Hull also bridged a few songs with some short solo narratives, one of which I remember being absolutely aching, where he sung about crying himself to sleep at night, it was cast in a somehow sorrowful light while he followed it up by declaring he didn't care if we thought he was a pussy. This was all in the song, mind you.
The other rather notable character on stage was keyboardist/backup vocalist Chris Freeman, who would recklessly thrash about, play air guitar and throw his instruments with serious abandon. The dude was a goddamn firecracker. After "Where Have You Been?", everyone in the band but him and Hull immediately left the stage. He joined Hull center stage, and the two got on their knees and did a caustic rendition of Granddaddy's "Now It's On."
Set list (10:25-11:32):
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