Show Review // The New Pornographers at The Royale 5/15/23
Show Review // The New Pornographers at The Royale 5/15/23

Show Review // The New Pornographers at The Royale 5/15/23

Hundreds of people crowded into The Royale on a Monday night to see the New Pornographers perform. It seemed like a family friendly crowd with small children dotting the venue while wearing their noise canceling headphones. There were large groups of friends who had gathered to see the show together. The Royale feels like a European nightclub with statues and chandeliers in the lobby. In the performance space there was an ornate balcony that wrapped around the outer walls with a bar in the back. The stage was elevated with lights that changed from pink and blue to red, green, and orange over the course of the evening, depending on what song was being performed.

The night’s opener was Wild Pink with a solid set, then the New Pornographers took the stage. They are an indie rock supergroup consisting of singer songwriters, many who are also members of other bands. There were 7 musicians on stage on vocals, drums, bass, saxophone, tambourine, guitar, and keyboard, as well as some auxiliary instruments such as a kazoo. The band has been together in one form or another since 1997 so their older songs were played to a well-practiced perfection. The show was a good mix of songs from the various albums with a few songs from the new album, Continue as a Guest, sprinkled throughout. The new songs blended well within the broader pantheon of the New Pornographers work. They played 20 songs with a four-song encore to wrap up the show in just under 2 hours.

The biggest surprise of the night was the addition of a saxophone to the band, often replacing parts that are often performed live on the violin. I haven’t seen this much sax used in a non-jazz concert since the 90’s. It was quirky, but it worked out to great effect with the saxophone increasing the tension in the emotional moments. It’s hard to pick out individual performances to acknowledge because they are all such strong performers, but Carl was in fine form with his wild vocalizations that are a real charm of the band.

The New Pornographers are always good at banter and this show was no exception. Neko asked the audience “do you ever get your hair stuck in your arm pits and then it yanks the hair on your head?” Carl suggested that Adventures in Solitude was played by request and said, “let it never be said we don’t do requests” and after taking the time to tune his guitar said, “I only need one string to play this song but it has to be in tune.” I was surprised to see someone getting kicked out of the venue in the lull between the concert and the encore. It made me question the family friendly atmosphere somewhat. That, and when someone on stage yelled at an audience member to turn off the flash on their phone “shut that shit off!”

It was an excellent show and I’ve come to expect no less from the New Pornographers. If I could change one thing it would be to bring Dan Bejar back to perform with the band. Its just not the same without him and it was always so great to hear them perform the fan favorite Myriad Harbor. The current lineup is great though and I already look forward to seeing them perform live again.


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