"Miracle on Tremont Street," Orpheum Theatre, December 4, 2007
The Orpheum is technically on Hamilton Place, and it was one divine intervention short of miraculous, but last Tuesday’s “Miracle on Tremont Street,” a concert that included veteran minimalist-pop savants Spoon, piano-pounding upstarts Cold War Kids, Butch Vig–reformed folk punks Against Me!, and neo-new-wavers Mute Math — offered a refreshing reminder that modern rock isn’t completely dominated by watered-down emo-pop pap and heinous post-grunge mush. (Of course we thought it would be an attractive show — it was a WFNX/Phoenix event — but still.)
Mute Math, Against Me!, and Cold War Kids turned out spirited opening sets, with CWK making shout-outs to the Middle East (the club, not the war zone), and trying out a new song that sounded like an attempt at In Rainbows–era Radiohead, replete with lilting falsetto from head Kid Nathan Willett. But Spoon, whose Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga (Merge) is one of my favorite albums of the year, were the main draw. Although they’ve been around more than a dozen years, their stock has risen sharply since Ga Ga came out, in July. Back in April I saw them at the MFA’s 400-ish-capacity Remis Auditorium, which frontman Britt Daniel told me was their first time headlining a seated venue. Eight months later — with a big club show at the Roxy in the meantime — they had some 2000 people transfixed for the entirety of a 13-song set that drew exclusively from their last three albums. The band — supplemented by a three-piece horn section, which was absent at their previous Boston shows — treaded between the precision of their MFA performance and the sloppiness of the Roxy show. Every tambourine jingle and piano chord were dead-on and discernible, but Daniel, whose hair had an Alfalfa cowlick thing going on, was all over the place, yelping and shrieking and stabbing at his guitar. At one point he got on his knees and summoned an ungodly rasp from his semi-hollowbody Gibson, like he was playing the biggest show of his life.
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