Apr 14, 2010

The Mountain Goats @ Manning Bar

The first time is always special. That is, seeing a band or artist for the very first time. There is that distinct anticipation. That feeling of excitement growing. Return visits give a different feeling, a different perspective. If a band has new material, then that obviously changes the dynamic as well. How does that affect the set list. If the newest album is a bit ordinary, do you suffer through the new tunes, maybe wishing for those 'golden oldies'. Tuesday night at the Manning Bar was my third time seeing The Mountain Goats. My first time with them in 2007 was ultra special, a night to never forget. In 2008 they came again and it was very, very good. But maybe not quite as great. At that show we received a lot from "Heretic Pride" and those songs were a treat live. So fast forward to 2010, their first show here since the release of "The Life Of The World To Come". Now this album has generally received good reviews, but I found it underwhelming. A great beginning and a great end, but a big soggy hole in the middle. So it turned out that this show had similar qualities for me. It had moments of sheer greatness and moments of stark beauty. But, but, some songs didn't quite get there for me.

So Peter Hughes and Jon Wurster entered the stage and started up with "Samuel". Soon John Darnielle entered and set up on the keyboards. Like the album this song was a perfect opener, with John showing us that he is deftly talented keyboardist. He was to ply this instrument on a handful of new songs during the night. But third up was "Romans", a distinctly average song in my opinion. It is just too much light guitar pop, containing none of that fierce Darnielle passion. "Isaiah" didn't feel a lot better. But then we received a massive treat. John was left alone on stage and he pulled out 3 songs that I had never heard before. Apparently they were all from the 'Alpha Series' and he rarely plays them at all. They were fantastic! Wonderful! Full of fiery passion and heartfelt angst. It also gave us the old taste of just John on guitar. Now I realise that this band are a different beast now and that Messrs Hughes and Wurster are very talented, but I think I would kill for a solo Darnielle show. Sorry I know that's probably a dead idea, but I just had to go there. Of the newer songs "Deuteronomy" is one of the best and it was muchly enjoyed. Then a great moment of the night occurred. Some enlightened punter yelled out a request for "Hast Thou Considered The Tetrapod" and John was so impressed by the clarity of the request that he decided to play it. And play it they did. Fantastic. Power and rage in full flight. The show ended with a bang too. A haunting rendition of "Song For Dennis Brown" followed a hilarious story of how Dennis Brown was really not John Darnielle's step father. The live staple "This Year" slayed us all again and the band closed with a ferocious "Ezekiel", quite possibly the best song from the new album. An encore followed and it was superb, closing ultimately with a fierce and uproarious "Houseguest", which saw John get up close and personal with the devoted audience. They returned for one last song and it was "The Best Ever Death Metal Band In Denton". Yes ,we all got to scream "Hail Satan" one more time. So, it ended. I was happy. Who isn't at a Mountain Goats show. But deep down I think it could have been better. Maybe a better selection of newer songs and even something from "Heretic Pride". But I have to say the band were in fine form and John was being his usual self. That is, a prince among men. Giving, generous, funny and just a gem of humanity. It's hard to complain too much. Especially after receiving the 'Alpha Songs'. A fourth time in the future? Oh yes! No Doubt.

Set List
1 Samuel 15:23
Old College Try
Romans 10:9
Letter From Belgium
Your Belgian Things
Isaiah 45:23
Alpha Omega
Alphabetizing
Alpha Desperation March
Enoch 18:14
Deuteronomy 2:10
Hast Thou Considered The Tetrapod
Hebrews 11:40
Cotton
Song For Dennis Brown
This Year
Ezekiel 7 And The Permanent Efficacy Of Grace

You Or Your Memory
No Children
Houseguest

The Best Ever Death Metal Band In Denton

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