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Monday, September 27, 2004
The Fiery Furnaces show on Saturday was indeed fantastic. Matthew's got a setlist and a review, but let me add a few more thoughts.
It was a definitely different experience from the other times I'd seen them, but I'm unclear how much is their different approach and how much is my different perspective. More specifically, given how enmeshed I am in the albums at this point, I think I longed more than I usually did to hear the actual songs played live instead of rearranged, rocked-up alternative versions. For instance, while usually they grabbed me right away, this time I took a while to warm up to it, and I felt like the audience did, too. In restrosepct, I think the first part of the show was actually the most impressive--if you look at that setlist, I'm pretty sure they did the first 10 songs in 5 minutes, and all with sort of minor, almost minimalist-in-a-hardcore-way alterations to the music, so for instance Eleanor would simply start singing a line from "Crystal Clear" over the beat they'd established for "Wolf Notes," and then there'd be the usual break, but then they'd go right back into the same or a very similar groove. It was breathtaking, but to me it almost seemed more impressive than involving. Later in the show, a girl yelled out a request for "Leaky Tunnel," which of course they'd already played bits of as the second song. Maybe people just need to get more used to the approach. It would be nice to see them with a group of hardcore fans.
That said, it was unquestionably a better set than they'd had before, and what they lacked (to my ears) in initial grabbiness they more than made up for with just general goodness as the set went on. "Blancheflower" in particular was great, as they had almost all the vocals but massively sped up the first part and had Eleanor sing it (which speeding up is especially impressive when you recall how wordy it is), and then just cut out all the instrumental breaks. As their jamminess on the album is part of its particular pleasure, this could be a detriment, but it wasn't--as much as I like Blueberry Boat, I'd definitely like to hear more of the songs this way. I'm particularly like to hear a start-to-finish version of "Quay Cur," given how fantastic the little verse breakdowns sound live.
ADDENDUM: Fluxblog review of a show from last November, with at least 8 at-the-time unreleased songs, including a bunch of BB ones. Just for comparison's sake.