New Pornographers, "Twin Cinema" live at House of Blues Boston
The first lesson from Friday's New Pornographers' show at the House of Blues was this: do not mess with Neko Case.
For some reason, an audience member hurled a CD — no case, just the shiny, sharp-edged disc — at the stage early in the band's set. This prompted New Pornographer Case to say, half-jokingly, "Whoever threw that, come up here, and I will fucking fight you. . . . I will go to jail, I don't give a shit."
Those familiar with the Canadian nonet's brand of charming, ornate power pop may have been surprised by this outburst, but it makes a kind of sense: the New Pornographers play their charming pop furiously and with purpose. Their bells and whistles are only window dressing for some dirty power chords.
From the moment the band walked on stage to the tune of Boston's "Foreplay," the New Pornographers' set was typically stellar. The NP's songs are by turns flat-out catchy and dizzyingly complicated — and the band stormed their way through the best of these, from opener, "Sing Me Spanish Techno," to rousing finale, "The Bleeding Heart Show." Though their new record Together (Matador) is another winner, the set didn't weigh too heavily on new songs. These were fan favorites, pure and simple.
Lead singer and guitarist Carl Newman, while not always on pitch, sang and played with all of his might. Dan Bejar, the band's sometimes-vocalist, drew rapturous applause when he stumbled on stage for "Up in the Dark," and stayed for the remainder of the show. His shambling appearance was the only loose aspect of the performance. The band's songs ran like clockwork, with little pause for tuning or banter. The cavernous, upscale House of Blues might not have been the best fit for the band (love those bathroom attendants!), which Newman seemed to acknowledge. "This place is quite huge," he said, later adding, "These kinds of places always make me feel like I'm in one of the first Superman movies, and you're like one of the elders, going to send me into space, in that cube."
But the setting did not dampen those catchy melodies. The band ended the night with encore closer "Testament to Youth in Verse," featuring a chorus of the word "no," repeated as the song builds to a big finish. "Fuck yes!" yelled a woman behind me. Exactly.