Feb 7, 2011

Menomena @ Factory Theatre

Tonight at the Factory Theatre I realised something. Well, I probably knew it beforehand. Menomena mean the world to me. So, even if somehow they only played an average show I would be in awe. But it was so much more then that. It was an organic and cataclysmic display of talent. A show of seismic talents. Menomena have the elements that make for the perfect band for me. They have drama in bucketloads. Cymbals crashing and guitars exploding plus those sublime keyboards are thrown at the wall in a furious and glorious mess. They have pathos and extreme imagination. They can be dark and obscure. They have emotional gravitas. They have power and subtlety in the one song. It's a very potent mix you see.

The show opened like a sledgehammer. The uber powerful troika of "Muscle'n Flo", "Five Little Rooms" and "TAOS" was a bold and startling beginning. "TAOS" is particularly robust live. Immense and thunderous. But the night would prove that there was nary a weak point. Of course I loved "Strongest Man In The World", cut from their very first album. This plaintive beast is hypnotic live. A pleasant surprise was the gift of two more tracks from the debut release. Especially the joyful and melodic "The Late Great Libido" which Justin Harris stated they hadn't played in four years. Harris shone also on "Queen Black Acid", the wonderful opening track from the triumphant "Mines". If there was a chance the night could not get any better, then it did, somehow. The band closed with "Rotten Hell, perhaps my favourite song from the band. This song is an emotional powerhouse that soars until my heart breaks. When Harris bursts forth with "Well it's high time we step outside, drop the gloves and settle this like a man" I sink with joyous resignation. A short break ensued and our men returned with two more songs including a raucous and thrusting version of "The Pelican". Man, I needed more, but I was still truly satisfied. As was the small but devoted crowd. Sad to think a band this great can't sell out a relatively small venue. But more power to those who were there. Although there was one 'fan' who became an annoyance after a while. He kept reminding new keyboardist Paul Alcott of his small computer malfunction at Laneway on Sunday. He also kept requesting "Evil Bee", until Paul reminded him that it was a Brent Knopf song and they wouldn't be playing it. Speaking of the departed Brent, of course we missed him. But the band and Paul did a great job of filling the void. Although Alcott slightly missed the beat on some songs, he really nailed the vital keyboard elements of the band. These were his first shows with the band and he did great considering the short time he had to rehearse the material. Of course the two main men were great. Danny Seim is a ferocious drummer, pounding the kit in the manner of Patrick Carney. Justin Harris, despite suffering from a cold, was dominant front and centre. His voice has great range and emotion and he is equally skilled on bass guitar and saxophone. As said, Menomena mean a lot to me. Their songs combine intricate layers, dramatic flair, pathos and raging emotion to great effect. For this reason alone this show will be very hard to top in 2011. And I have witnessed some great ones already.

Set List
Muscle'n Flo
Five Little Rooms
Strongest Man In The World
Twenty Cell Revolt
The Late Great Libido
Queen Black Acid
Dirty Cartoons
Rotten Hell

The Pelican


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