Published Jul 16, 2010In recent years, the New Pornographers have embraced baroque string arrangements and sombre acoustic balladry, but don't let that fool you into thinking that they've mellowed out completely. During the band's performance at the Vogue Theatre, they kept the tempos blazing and the guitar amps cranked, sounding like the power pop heroes of old.
The set kicked off with "Myriad Harbour," with the nine musicians coming together for thundering crescendos and soaring group harmonies (there was a total of seven vocal mics). Things only got louder from there, with "What Turns Up in the Dark" and "Sing Me Spanish Techno" played as bombastic '70s riff rockers.
All of the band's members were on hand, including often-absent Dan Bejar and Neko Case, plus a guest multi-instrumentalist who contributed cello and saxophone. Despite the diverse instrumentation (keyboards, melodica, harmonica), the sound was dominated by the roaring guitars, meaning that that even the poignant "My Rights Versus Yours" was transformed into a rager.
This display of rock'n'roll bravado had an unfortunate effect on the audience, with rowdy fans attempting to match the group's energy by hollering drunkenly between songs. Worst of all was one meathead in the balcony who decided that it was funny to yell "Bieber" incessantly throughout the performance.
Despite the obnoxious heckling, the New Pornographers were their usual charming selves, bantering lightly between songs and joking about everything from breast milk to rednecks to Dead Poets Society.
Any distracting buffoonery was forgotten by the time the encore came around, which began with a gorgeous rendition of "Challengers," the evening's quietest, most intimate moment. The New Pornographers then wrapped up with "Testament to Youth in Verse," encouraging the audience to sing along with the song's triumphant coda and offering a compelling reminder of why they are some of Vancouver's most beloved indie rockers.