The Fiery Furnaces: Live Last Night


Live Last Night

By David Malitz

The world doesn't need more bands like the Fiery Furnaces. The original will more than suffice. That's not an insult; it's just that one sister/brother-fronted band that plays wordy, inscrutable, schizophrenic songs that endlessly zig and zag in every possible direction is enough, and that in less talented hands than singer Eleanor and guitarist Matthew Friedberger's, the results would almost certainly be disastrous. But the Furnaces have made that formula work for them -- mostly-- and their performance the Black Cat Saturday night was rewarding, if a bit exhausting.

(Read the rest of the review after the jump.)

By the time the band put the finishing touches on opener "Chris Michael," from 2004's "Blueberry Boat," you'd be forgiven for thinking it was actually the end of the sixth song thanks to all of the stops, starts and shifts contained within. From there the Furnaces mostly concentrated on songs from the recent "I'm Going Away," an album that can be classified as straightforward pop compared to the rest of the band's catalogue but would surely be tagged as dense and difficult coming from almost any other group. As weird as the songs were, it was an organic kind of weirdness. There was no reliance at all on any sort of samples, non-tradtional instruments or bizarre stage antics. All the oddness was structural, coming from the most traditional of rock-and-roll setups: singer, guitarist, bassist and drummer.

"Charmaine Champagne" built up a nice boogie groove but instead of riding the momentum the band doubled the tempo, resulting in some sort of Primus-like funk. (Not so hot.) The chorus of "Even in the Rain" was the closest thing to a singalong moment, but it still sounded like a song from some long-lost, '70s art-house film, most likely starring Malcom McDowell. (Much better.) "Drive to Dallas" split the difference, meaning you simply had to catch your breath after it was over, not seek out an oxygen tank.

By David Malitz |  August 10, 2009; 7:12 AM ET Live Last Night
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I'm surprised you didn't mention the openers, particularly Wye Oak. They were really amazing. I wish their CD was as good as their live performance.

Posted by: robjmiller1 | August 12, 2009 11:26 AM

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