Alex Chilton of Big Star, who has died at the age of 59 in New Orleans, La. after…
- Posted on Sep 24th 2010 10:00AM by Kenneth Partridge
"Welcome to half the Mercury Lounge," singer and guitarist Jon Auer said at the top of the set, looking out at a room that, indeed, might fit twice in that Manhattan venue. Not surprisingly, the show was sold out, and as the Posies unveiled songs from their seventh studio effort, fans listened politely, keeping even between-song clapping to a minimum.
Auer and co-frontman Ken Stringfellow both told Spinner in recent interviews that they were worried about bringing 'Blood/Candy' to the stage. Thursday's show suggests they were either fretting over nothing, or they buckled down and practiced hard. Whichever it was, 'Blood/Candy' proved road-ready. If the group had to cut some of the fiddly synth bits and guitar effects that reveal themselves with repeated listening, it did so without sacrificing the essence of the songs.
Openers 'Plastic Paperbacks' and 'Notion 99,' sung by Stringfellow and Auer, respectively, were fairly typical Posies songs -- crisp, cryptic, McCartney-melodic power-pop jams. It wasn't until Stringfellow sat behind the piano that things took a left turn.
"This one must be called, 'Blowhemian Crapsody,'" Stringfellow said of the proggy, not entirely un-Queen-like 'Licenses to Hide.' Not to be outdone, Auer brought out a French horn player for the next song, 'So Caroline,' one of the disc's prettier rockers. He said they'd practiced two weeks on the horn part, which hopefully wasn't true, since it lasted about 20 seconds.
"And then things got weird," Auer said a few songs later, as Stringfellow again got behind the keyboard, this time for 'Accidental Architecture.' The song has multiple parts, and as a tiptoeing, nursery-rhyme melody of the first section disappeared into the bachelor-pad jazz of the second, then resurfaced and started the cycle anew, bassist Matt Harris and drummer Darius Minwalla followed right along, demonstrating the chemistry they've developed with Auer and Stringfellow over the last decade.
After 'Architecture,' it was as if the Posies had landed their triple axel and were free to glide through the rest of 'Blood/Candy.' That 'Pet Sounds' bit at the end of 'Enewetak,' a song about a test site for US hydrogen bombs? No sweat.
As an encore, the Posies played a handful of old favorites, including 'Farewell Typewriter,' 'Fight It (If You Want)' and 'Terrorized.' Better still was a comment Stringfellow made about his father, a man who, despite having worked in New York City for a number of years, was in Brooklyn for the first time. Evidently, the elder Stringfellow was confused by the name of a popular music website that had run a story about his son's show.
"This morning, he had to look up 'Brooklyn' and 'vegan' in the dictionary,'" Stringfellow said.