Spoon gets down to business at the House of Blues
By NICK TAVARES
STATIC and FEEDBACK Editor
It was an education to watch Spoon, with as few frills as possible, walk on stage and get down to the business of rock and roll with practically no fanfare and no tricks.
The backdrop behind the band accented the musicians’ shadows as the white and purple lights swirled around them, a modest display meant to silhouette the band and bring full attention to the songs. It’s the songs that were the true stars, and performing them as skillfully as possible was the job on Thursday night at the House of Blues in Boston.
They certainly came through. Drawing back from 2001’s Girls Can Tell through last year’s They Want My Soul, Spoon crafted a workmanlike set that kept the vibe alternately dancing and pounding, introspective and direct. It was a near-perfect survey of a catalog that has managed to so often convey so much while maintaining the most efficient path to point B.
Twenty years into Spoon’s history, it’s nothing new to note Brit Daniel’s commanding presence on stage. It’s an understated quality and one that continues to be gripping, because without any obvious frontman tendencies, he can hold a crowd completely captive. He doesn’t vamp or strut or even pander to the home crowd — in fact, he barely said anything until the encore.
Simply, he and his band are a tightly wound coil that can spin and whip on command. With Jim Eno anchoring things behind him on drums, he’s free to guide the song, signaling when to bring the enterprise crashing down or lifting off as needed. It’s all business, from his black button-front shirt to his steely determination in delivering the songs.
All this does work to serve the songs. With a quick wave of the guitar neck, he’s able to accentuate the most rhythmic moments of “I Turn My Camera On” while travelling through it’s higher register on vocals. Putting the guitar down, he can pick up the microphone and front the piano charge of “The Way We Get By.”
That high energy worked to the benefit of the newer songs, too. A stomping tune like “Rent I Pay” or “Knock Knock Knock” doesn't need much help to win over in a live setting, but that bottom end brought a much-needed edge to songs like “Outlier” and “Inside Out.” The synth beds of those songs sound a little thin now on They Want My Soul, but gain a new power on stage.
But they didn’t just rely on that bass-heavy boom to get it over. Towards the end of the main set, the band dialed things down on the heavily acoustic combination of “Let Me Be Mine” and “I Summon You.” That set up a rollicking duo of “Don’t Make Me a Target” and “Got Nuffin” to close it out, with everything back on the table — slashing guitars, pounding drums, bass lines that run and jump and Daniel in front of it all, blaring through in his scratchy howl to keep everyone at once dancing and captivated.
At the end of the night, they’re just a band at work. Every night when the house lights cut, Daniel and company have a job to do, and they get to it with minimal obstruction. Here’s the song, here’s the run, here’s the show, here’s the tour. It always works.
Email Nick Tavares at email@example.com