Facebook R&B crooner Mario has been relatively quiet on the music front for…
- Posted on Jun 21st 2010 10:00AM by Kenneth Partridge
"Ordinarily, we don't give a f--- about you people," lead singer, guitarist and primary songwriter Carl Newman (aka A.C. Newman when he's a solo act) jokingly told the audience, just before scratching one fan's itch for 'Jackie.' The band had likely planned on playing that offbeat bubblegum rocker -- it did the night before at Manhattan's Terminal 5 -- but it hadn't intended on doing so a mere six songs into Sunday's set.
Embracing democracy and fast-tracking 'Jackie' meant summoning from backstage singer and guitarist Dan Bejar, the song's author. Shaggy haired, unshaven and perpetually clutching a beer, Bejar has, by far, the group's cushiest job. Somehow, he's convinced the others to let him amble out only when they're fixing to play one of his compositions.
A side project for all involved, the band is talented enough to accommodate part-timers. At full strength, the Pornos roll nine deep, boasting a baseball team's worth of talent. If Newman is the owner, general manager and starting pitcher, and Bejar is the superstar pinch hitter, than the other seven members are fielding specialists, clutch bunters and base stealers: folks who help the cause without hogging the glory. Most valuable among these peripheral players is Neko Case, the country-noir tigress who only occasionally joins the band on the road.
Case is with the group on this latest tour, and Sunday night, she showed great humility and patience, waving her tambourine and waiting for such tunes as 'Crash Years,' from the Pornos' just-released fifth album, 'Together,' to jump out front and sing a big chorus. Of course, Newman saved for himself the song's most memorable passage, a whistling solo reminiscent of the J. Geils Band hit 'Centerfold.'
While the Pornos didn't actually play that 1981 classic, they did bust out a few bars of the Tone Loc pop-rap masterwork 'Wild Thing.' They also covered, in a sense, one of their own songs, working up an impromptu version of the 'Twin Cinema' selection 'Streets of Fire,' which Bejar wrote and originally recorded with the band Destroyer. Newman had forgotten the key signature, and as he fumbled with the chord progression, he asked Case for some help.
"Like I know," she said, readying a one-liner that would land her on the highlight reel. "It's in f---ing A on the tambourine."