Review and photos – Spoon at the Orpheum Theatre, Vancouver, April 11 2010
– review by Ria Nevada/photos by Ben Shulman
Spoon has achieved quiet commercial success in the past 10 years with its brand of unaffected and enlivening rock ‘n’ roll. If I had a nickel for every time I heard “I Turn My Camera On”, “The Way We Get By” or “The Underdog” in a prime time television show or feature film soundtrack, I would almost be able to pay for a Cineplex movie ticket.
But despite its ubiquitous presence in popular culture, Spoon has managed to keep the celebrity circus at bay and churn out honest records at a steady pace. Recently, the Austin band set out on a transcontinental tour to promote its latest release, Transference, that includes the far reaches of Barcelona and across Australia.
An all-ages audience greeted Spoon with enthusiastic whistling and cheers. Christmas lights were the only embellishments added to the set, mirroring the uncomplicated approach they have taken with their craft. Singer Britt Daniel opened the set with a stripped down performance of “Before Destruction” that led into the more blues-funk inspired “Nobody Gets Me But You”. The composition alternates between less than a handful of chords in a cyclical pattern, with layers of bass, drums and keyboards from band members Rob Pope, Jim Eno and Eric Harvey supplementing Daniel’s gravelly vocals.
Their more experimental efforts were heard on “The Ghost of You Lingers”. Strobe lights punctuating Harvey’s staccato rhythms on the keyboard, and the echo effect added to Daniel’s lament, momentarily transforming the theatre into the set of a beautiful horror film. The more upbeat “Someone Something”, followed by “Rhythm and Soul”, broke the tension.
Spoon’s wide appeal can be attributed at least in part to their allusions to the great genres in the history of music. The bright and uplifting tune “You Got Your Cherry Bomb” hearkened back to lighthearted ’60’s rock bands such as the Lovin’ Spoonful and the Spencer Davis Group, while “Jonathan Fisk” and “Small Stakes” recalled the charismatic spirit and boogie rhythms of Chuck Berry. Eno’s utilization of a digital effect on his drum kit on “Who Makes Your Money” gave the song a deconstructed new wave air.
But ultimately, the band’s accessibility is a result of their candor and authentic performances. Daniel undoubtedly won many hearts over as he gave a big sigh before crooning “I summon you here my love” from the band’s highly acclaimed record, Gimme Fiction. The standout from the evening had to be “Don’t Make Me a Target” where Harvey flew through an impressive keyboard solo while Daniel growled the chorus like his life depended on it. By the end of the night, Spoon had delivered a generous 23-song set, but still had their fans craving another helping.