Liars at Paradise, February 8, 2008
On the eve of Liars’ current US tour, frontman Angus Andrew — an Aussie expat — threw out his back and was, by all accounts, immobile. Not good news for a band known for the primal intensity of their performances and the occasional frenetic acrobatics of their towering lead singer. Fortunately for the capacity crowd who caught them at the Paradise last Friday, Andrew’s tender spine didn’t dampen the now LA-based foursome’s considerable energy. Dapper as always, in a raspberry red suit, Andrew started the show seated in a chair, gesticulating with his arms as he sang, but in time he was up and about, strutting peacock-like around the stage.
Liars are known for taking risks and for their æsthetic unpredictability. In 2000 they were on the crest of the neo-post-punk wave, pushing it to an abstract limits by deconstructing verse/chorus/verse structures with a mix of electronic drums and synths and organic drums, bass, and guitar. So the surprising thing about their homonymous fourth album, on Mute, is the lack of surprises. Liars is their most straightforward, song-oriented release, with little of the discordant experimentation of its predecessors.
At the Paradise, the band mixed and matched old and new. The hazy, Jesus and Mary Chain–style rocker “Freak Out” and the quasi-metal “Plaster Casts of Everything” — both from Liars — gave them a chance to flex their rock muscles. But it was when they dipped into the apocalyptic funk of 2001’s They WereWrong,So We Drowned and 2006’s Drums Not Dead that the mix of tribal beats, screaming vocals, angular guitars, and, on “Let’s Wrestle,” two drummers reached full force. No surprise that Andrew couldn’t stay in his seat.
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