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Thank You, Thank You!! An Evening with The Airborne Toxic Event & Franz Ferdinand at the Orpheum Theatre in Boston

You might want to strap yourself down for my review of The Airborne Toxic Event at Boston’s Orpheum Theatre. The band was absolutely on fire last night. Daren, Noah, Steven, Mikel and Anna — you guys f*cking rock! Driven into a frenzy by Mikel, who… well, I don’t know what happened over there in the UK (maybe it’s something in the water?), but there was something just slightly unhinged about him that seemed to take things to an even higher level of emotional passion. Ok, I’ll admit maybe it was me who was unhinged by the opportunity of seeing my favorite band live once again, but those are my personal observations.

Mikel trying his best to rouse a sedate Boston audience

Mikel trying his best to rouse a sedate Boston audience

Whatever was the case, three songs into the set, the people in the front were still unbelievably in their seats, despite TATE’s auditory outpouring (not me, I was dancing like a banshee). Well, Mikel decided he had had enough, and — with Anna already poised up on an amp behind him — he stepped out into the audience, perching himself on a few empty chairs at the front to deliver a blistering and defiant version of “Does This Mean You’re Moving On?” Somehow, the image of him towering above the still rather docile front center rows brought to mind visions of Iggy out in those sometimes-unsuspecting audiences in the late 60’s, albeit without the shards of glass and peanut butter. But the attitude felt somewhat similar, as did the audience’s clueless reaction. Sufficiently embarrassed into action and spurned on by this great, great song (I don’t know how it’s even possible to stay seated during it), everyone got to their feet, finally entering into the center of the musical maelstrom, where they stayed and danced until the end of the all-too-short but explosive set. [Oh yeah, and thankfully, very thankfully, Fletcher of ‘FNX did not attempt his “live band karaoke” this time.]

“Happiness is Overrated” followed (“about this Catholic girl who turned out to be not so catholic”), and then the absolutely beautiful “This Losing,” which I love to hear live. Then, with the alternate (acoustic version) lyrics, “This is Nowhere,” that great ode to the Silver Lake scene, and on to the one that obviously this ‘FNX audience were waiting to hear, “Sometime Around Midnight.” [A woman behind me after the song ended — “well, I just got my money’s worth!”]. I think WFNX may start playing “Gasoline” now, since it’s the next single (in the UK anyway, backed by the brilliant “The Winning Side,” which is available via eBay, if you’re in the U.S. and bought the hard-copy CD and not the digital version from iTunes). “Midnight” got some alternate lyrics from Mikel, who may be starting to feel, after 30 days straight of singing this, that a little “mixing it up” may be in order. “That white dress she’s wearing” turned into a black dress (it was a red dress during the ‘FNX acoustic set), and “holding her tonic like a cross” (one of my all-time favorite lines of theirs) was more correctly expanded into “vodka & tonic.”

sorry it's blurry, but trust me, they were awesome!

This is what happens when you try to take pictures and dance at the same time. Sorry it is blurry, but trust me, they were awesome!

They ended with a gorgeous rendition of “Innocence,” as always starting with lovely viola and bass from Anna & Noah, and building into a swirling frenzy, the evening’s festivities finished off in grand style by Mikel and Noah leaping off in perfect harmony from the drum riser. [Didn’t quite catch who made the higher jump; my guess is that it was probably Noah. His legendary leaps have now been immortalized on the Gasoline CD single.]

Thank you so much guys, for a truly beautiful evening!

Brief mention of their support acts, haha. No no, I’m joking, no disrespect meant at all to Franz Ferdinand. They were wonderful. It was my first time seeing them, and I thought they were really great. Standout songs for me which were a bouncy joy to witness live: “Michael,” “The Dark of the Matinee,” “Take Me Out,” and “This Fire” — all from their fantastic debut album back in 2004. Songs from their upcoming album, “Tonight: Franz Ferdinand” (due out January) seem quite promising as well, especially the track WFNX was playing for a while, “Lucid Dreams.”

Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand

Franz Ferdinand drum solo

The band that opened, Dearly Beloved, was less successful, I felt. Opening bands are always plagued by low audience attendance, but one complaint that I often have: they were too damned loud! Their music might have been interesting and enjoyable (I liked what I previewed before the show on MySpace), but after a certain decibel level, it just becomes annoying, as I’m afraid was the case here. Franz was a bit too loud as well, but somehow I didn’t mind that as much. Oddly, TATE was at a perfect volume, and no, I’m not just saying that because of my obvious partiality.

(TATE set list)
Wishing Well
Does This Mean You’re Moving On?
Happiness is Overrated
This Losing
This is Nowhere
Sometime Around Midnight

P.S. I doubt she’ll see this, and I don’t know her name, but I’d like to say a big thank you to the usher at the right front aisle of the Orpheum last night. Due to my “senior moment” during the presale, my friend Victor had a seat way off on the opposite side, but she let him take an empty seat near the front, after I explained what big TATE fans we were. Even better, after their set, she said to me, “Now I know why you like them so much — they were great!” Woo hoo! A new fan!

P.S.S. Upon hearing about the inclement weather in the UK, I said that I would do my best to arrange for a nice snowstorm for their Boston visit. I wasn’t quite able to deliver on that promise, but as I write this Sunday morning, there is a lovely shower of flurries coming down…

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The Annual WZBC Pow-Wow presented by Victor Robert Venckus


The Airborne Toxic Event Live at Knott’s Berry Farm, Toys for Tots Toy Drive, December 14, 2008

1 Comment

  1. thanks for the write up on the show! see the jerk with the dumb hat and the camera in the picture up above? that’s me! i got some good shots. here’s a link to my flickr page!
    cheers, and thanks for coming to the show.
    p.s. – wfnx has already added “Gasoline”! 😉

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