Just back from playing a fun and very well attended show at Tonic with Miho and her customarily top-notch band. Now home, and tired and grumpy for no particular reason -- nothing that either some white tea or a bit of scotch won't fix.
Destroyer last night was great. My only previous live Destroyer experience had been on the "Your Blues" tour, when he was backed by Frog Eyes, and they made a tremendous and not very well thought out racket together, and I just left feeling irritated.
This was a whole different thing. First off, he's got a band now, the same band that plays on the record, and while they weren't always 100% on point -- a kind of joyful sloppiness is part of the point of this music, but there were plenty of moments when they were clearly being sloppy without meaning to be (most unfortunately when the guitarist inexplicably made his triumphant entrance on "Rubies" a full beat late, completely out of synch with the rest of the band) -- they were generally excellent, and more than good enough to get out of Bejar's way and let him tear through those extaordinary songs.
And what a great set list. All the best tracks off of "Destroyer's Rubies" (tracks 1-5 and 7, that is), and a totally inspired reimagining of "It's Gonna Take An Airplane," full of threatened explosions, but always pulling back to a place of menacing restraint.
The sound was problemmatic at times, especially when the band got loud, at which point it became impossible to really pull Bejar's voice out of the throng, and certainly impossible to tell what he was saying if you didn't know the words already. But the force of his voice and presence really carried it through at those moments, as he'd build up, with that marvelous, stop start accumulation phrasing, to those thrilling peaks of peevishness and defiance. I was delighted to hear that what sounds like brilliant improvisational phrasing on the records is, in fact, improvised (I've been fooled before, particularly with Martha Wainwright, who plans out every note and does it the same every time, not to say that that's bad (see Billie Holiday) just unexpected in her case).
Mr. Zoilus man reports that the lead guitar was too quiet compared to Bejar's at the Toronto show. Funny, because the opposite was the case at Avalon. Either they have a fickle soundman, aren't bringing their own soundman on the road, or they have a soundman who reads Zoilus and adjusts accordingly.