Feb 19, 2008

Sonic Youth @ Enmore Theatre

There are good bands. There are average bands, lots. There are bad bands, even more. Then there are great bands, sometimes legendary bands. Sonic Youth are a legendary band. To say they have an intimidating reputation and a reservoir of credibility would be an understatement. So any opportunity to see them live should be appreciated and relished. To see them perform their classic 1988 opus "Daydream Nation" is a rare and treasured experience. Monday night at the Enmore Theatre was such an occasion. As part of the Don't Look Back series they performed "Daydream Nation" in full, front to back, note for note. It was a great experience, the band has lost none of their touch through the years, still as switched on and energetic as ever. Even if the night wasn't a total emotional experience full of awe and wonder, it certainly was a night of appreciation and respect. Respect for music that has influenced so many musicians that have followed in this iconic band's footsteps.

I still remember being thrilled by the very first time the needle hit the vinyl many years ago on "Daydream Nation". Sonic Youth were revolutionary and evolutionary. Their core work of the late 80's and early 90's was a touchstone of Indie Rock. Always pushing the envelope they won my respect many years ago. I even managed to see them live a couple of times in the 90's. So even if I had lost touch over the last few years, as other artists and singers took my attention, I still remember those thrilling noises that emanated from the instruments of Sonic Youth. Especially "Teen Age Riot". Naturally this was the opener and it still sounded as fresh as ever, its guitar chords cutting a jagged edge through the night air. Then the album flowed, I actually forgot how long it was, as Thurston and Kim and Lee swapped vocal duties. Favourites were the Kim Gordon tunes "The Sprawl" and "Cross The Breeze". I also loved the infectious melody of "Total Trash" as well as the sprawling, explosive closer "Trilogy", an epic unto itself. As said, this band has aged extremely well. They aren't on no pension plan. Thurston Moore still wields the axe like few others. Playing the guitar on "Eric's Trip" with a drum stick was a sight to behold. They have been and still are an inventive guitar band. Although sometimes delving into moments of sheer noise, they would still manage to bring the song back to a listenable level. One odd note of the night was the total abscence of band chatter. I am assuming that they desired the experience to be total, as if any words would interrupt the flow. They did open up a bit in the encore, when they thanked the crowd and loosened up a little. Oh, two major highlights in the encore. Sans guitar, Kim Gordon danced up a storm and Mark Ibold (Pavement) joined the band on stage to play bass guitar. The lighting was also extremely subdued, the band spent most of the night in half shadow. Normally the Enmore lighting is excellent, so I can only assume it was an artistic decision. All in all, an enjoyable night in the company of legends. Even if it didn't make me gasp in awe, I certainly appreciated the display set before me.

I was also very happy to meet Sean and Angus. Great to finally meet you guys. I am sure I will see you at many future shows.

Set List (Obvious, but I note for historical purposes)
Teen Age Riot
Silver Rocket
The Sprawl
Cross The Breeze
Eric's Trip
Total Trash
Hey Joni
Rain King

Jams Run Free
Drunken Butterfly

Pink Steam

(I think I got the encores right, but I stand to be corrected)


  • At February 19, 2008 , Anonymous matt said...

    Yeah, me and a friend basically figured the no chatter thing was because they have taken the whole "Don't Look Back" series very literally. As in, just playing the record from front to back, rather than like other gigs. It was funny though, I was thinking they had all fallen out over something, as it seemed a little icy on stage between them for a while.. ohwell... it was better than their Rather Ripped gig, and yes you got the encores exactly right.


  • At February 19, 2008 , Anonymous Marty said...

    Hey that's a great review! I was right up the front, the closest person to Lee. I got his guitar pick at the end and a water bottle. I also noticed how they didn't interact with the audience as much as last time I saw them, perhaps it was due to the illusion of playing an album start to finish (you don't get the band talking to you on LPs). Anyway, I had a blast!

  • At February 20, 2008 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Ah crumbs, I missed the bloggers meet up. Lovely review as always.

  • At February 21, 2008 , Anonymous Malcolm said...

    Nice review of a night I'll remember for a long time. I left wishing I could go again on the Tuesday night. Your encore list looks right, BTW.

  • At June 11, 2008 , Anonymous Martin said...

    Good Job! :)

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