Sunday, July 23, 2006

Elysian Fields @ Joe's Pub

I don't know what an Elysian Fields show would be like at a larger venue like Irving Plaza. Most bands who play live are trying to psych you up, get a big reaction from the crowd, make you sing along and get involved. If your audience just stood there silent, you'd probably be doing something wrong. However, at an Elysian Fields show, that rapt silence is the default mode while they're playing, followed by clapping after they finish. The audience isn't wrapped up in the music becuase they're doing so much, rather it's the minimalism, the skillful playing that draws you into the world of their songs.

This show was even more restrained than the show at Tonic in March. For some songs that worked well, others I found could have used a little bit more. At this show, they played almost exclusively from Bum Raps and Love Taps, their newest album. There was a bit off Dreams that Breathe Your Name, and I don't think anything off of the first two albums. In addition, there were a couple of new tracks, including one they also played at the Tonic show that's about "A Dirty Rotten Bastard who turns you on." That song is a bit more cabaret than their other stuff and it would be interesting to see them go in that direction on a whole album.

The way they were set up here, everything was built around Jennifer's vocals. She carried almost every song, with only occasional moments when the piano and guitar were spotlighted. The highlight of the show was "Passing on the Stairs," with Oren and Jennifer together on vocals backed by an accordian. If I have one complaint about their live show it's that I'd like a drummer backing them on all the tracks, not just occasionally when Oren plays drums. That would make it sound a bit fuller, as it does on the recordings. I wouldn't want heavy drums, rather just something to contribute to the mood they've already created so expertly.

But, the show still works great without that. I like the fact that they keep the focus on the music, rather than on showmanship. Their music creates a moody world and seeing them live lets you get lost in that world.

Related Posts
Lovage: Music to Make Love to Your Old Lady By (11/19/2004)
Elysian Fields @ Tonic (3/18/2006)

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