Jan 4, 2008

Built To Spill @ Metro Theatre


Five men walk onto a stage. Unobtrusively, the lead guitarist unpacks his suitcase full of pedals, tunes his guitar. His band mates follow suit. No fuss, no fanfare, no introduction. They start playing. "Traces", oh, it's Built to Spill. The crowd responds, hardcore fans appreciating and loving the fact that this is friggin' BUILT TO SPILL. First time in Australia. They need no strutting or preening. No display of rock attitood or fake performance designed to "entertain". For this is a rock band built on the hard rock of searing chords and dynamic riffs, underlying the high pitch harmonies of Doug Martsch. Oh, Doug Martsch. He is a legend and he proved it Thursday night at the Metro Theatre. Unequivocally. Damn straight.

Built to Spill were close to flawless. The band is so in sync with each other, that there is barely a whiff of recognition between the 5 men. They just play and play, laying layer upon layer on each track. Building something beautiful with each and every song. Brett Nelson and Scott Plouf are a dynamic rhythm section, knowing just where to place themselves on every moment of every song. Brett Netson and newish member Jim Roth provide guitar support to Doug, adding to the overall wall of sound. However Mr Martsch is so accomplished, so in control, so majestic that he could probably handle every lick himself. If you ever wish to see guitar playing at its zenith, watch Doug Martsch, he caresses and cajoles his guitar with supreme wizardry. Each song is a journey into classic chord changes, it was a privilege to see him at work. At times he just closes his eyes as he is living and breathing each moment, reaching down inside himself for that last drop of magic. Occasionally he will open his eyes, to peek at the audience, maybe just to check to see if they are still on the journey. He barely talks, just every now and then letting out a high pitched "thanks". Don't worry though, he was into it. But he is playing, not performing. Pure music, not a "show".

The set list. No complaints here. Of course I was hoping for "Car" and I wish they could have found some more tunes from their classic "Perfect From Now On". But just minor quibbles. They played 3 songs from "There's Nothing Wrong With Love" including a surprise "Reasons" which melted by heart. They pulled out the old classic "Nowhere Nothin' Fuckup" and gave us moments of pure inspiration from "Keep It Like A Secret". "The Plan" was stunning, "Sidewalk" was pure fun and "You Were Right" and "Carry the Zero" down right heart stopping. I could hear those songs from now until eternity. After an hour and a half of magic, they returned for a 15 minutes version of "Randy Described Eternity". Then it was over, a quick thanks and they disappeared into the night. If I see a better show in 2008, then I am in for a great year.

Set List
Traces
In The Morning
Sidewalk
Nowhere Nothin' Fuckup
Goin' Against Your Mind
Reasons
Third Uncle
The Plan
Fly Around My Pretty Little Miss
You Were Right
Strange
Big Dipper
Conventional Wisdom
Carry The Zero

Randy Described Eternity

More photos of the night at my Flickr.

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