Thursday, July 02, 2009
Phoenix at the Wiltern Theatre
I started to worry when I saw the update from Twitter that Phoenix had cancelled their show the day before in San Francisco due to illness. Could they rise in time to perform at the Wiltern? It turns out Phoenix soared by turning in a buzzworthy performance with palpable electricity in the air.
Amazing Baby by the way of Brooklyn started off the evening with their straight up rock set. It was nice to see two half stacks of Orange Amplifiers power their dual guitar attack. Rewind is their debut album released on Shangri-La Music. I wasn't familiar enough with their material to cite which songs they played but they touched upon elements of psychedelic and sludge rock.
I can't recall the last time Phoenix played Los Angeles. It has been a few years between their album It's Never Been Like That and their latest release Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix but the wait has been worth it.
Following high profile appearances on Saturday Night Live and David Letterman, I couldn't help but chuckle when I saw the billboards in the lobby of the Wiltern indicating that this performance was going to be filmed for NBC. My suspicion is that it was being filmed for the Carson Daly show.
The soft swirl of synthesizers of "Liztomania" was quickly followed by the bouncing beats of Thomas Hedlund (Drums) who was literally leaping out of his chair propelling the songs. Thomas Mars (Vocals) may have been sick the evening before, but his voice showed no ill effects as he was hitting all the notes.
A mini-barrage of my favorite songs from It's Never Been Like That with the crooked guitar jangle of "Long Distance Call" followed by the toe tapping infectious "Consolation Prizes". Laurent Brancowitz (Guitars) was playing a hybrid Fender Telecaster morphed with a Fender Mustang pickguard. It wasn't difficult to deduce they were sponsored by Fender since I spotted their backline was filled with Fender amplifiers.
Phoenix picked off even more gems by deftly dispensing "Lasso" and "Napoleon Says". It was vocoder heaven with Phoenix reaching back to their debut album United for "Funky Squaredance". The ovation that the band received after each track was deafening. I glanced up into the balcony to see a good majority of the people dancing and standing.
Thomas Mars even held out his microphone into the crowd to amplify the applause before engaging the silky smooth feel of "Armstice". "Love Like A Sunset" did give Thomas a chance to rest his voice and lie down on the stage while the band effortlessly played the dancing groove.
The crowd hysterics continued during "Run Run Run" as a female stage invader provided the awkward moment of the evening by hopping on stage and couldn't decide whether to dance on stage or attack Thomas Mars. Despite the awkwardness, I was impressed by the sounds of soft synth pads emanating from their Yamaha keyboards on stage.
Highlights throughout the evening kept pouring in as "Sometimes In The Fall" was taken to new heights with the spectacular drumming by Thomas Hedlund. "Rome" was rose and fell epically with synthesizers dominating the song during the mid section.
Phoenix returned to another standing ovation prior to their encore of "If I Even Feel Better" and the delectable dance floor burning "1901". I already have September 16th circled on my calendar when Phoenix and Metric return to the Greek Theater.
Phoenix setlist at the Wiltern Theatre (6/28/09)
"Long Distance Call"
"Love Like A Sunset"
"Run Run Run "
"Sometimes In The Fall"
"If I Ever Feel Better"