Phoenix. Photo: Christopher Polk, Getty Images AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Depeche Mode,…
- Posted on Mar 29th 2011 2:00PM by Stephen Dowling
Eschewing the kind of cramped bars Sheff has probably seen plenty of during the band's past SXSW gigs in their hometown of Austin, Texas, Monday night's show was in St Pancras' Old Church, a North London place of worship that might be trying to give the nearby Union Chapel a run for its gig-hosting money.
After a 12-song set -- with Sheff accompanied for half of it by bass player Pat Pestorius -- the be-whiskered singer strode through the crowd, grasping the outstretched fans of hands, to sit at a battered old piano and play 'For Real,' surrounded by the audience.
"I went to do that, and I was like 'Oh my God I'm surrounded,'" Sheff told Spinner. "People were peering over my shoulder. I felt really exposed."
He adds, "It's like I'm playing piano in someone's parlour, and I'm supposed to be an actual musician that people pay money to see."
The piano-based start to the encore was something he had been toying with as soon as he spied the old upright in the corner during a "disaster" of a sound check.
When you play a rock show, you ratchet up the intensity by getting louder, but when you play a solo show you can only get so loud physically," he said. "It's only possible to be so loud, and loudness is not very compelling solo. So you ratchet up the energy by getting quieter. It's really funny. It's a completely opposite dynamic."
'I Am Very Far' is out in May, and fans will soon get to see Sheff and company rely on good old-fashioned volume on their next tour. The piano, as far as Spinner knows, is staying right where it is.