VIDEO: Phoenix, "1901" (live at the Paradise)
Toward the end of Phoenix's long set at the Paradise Wednesday night, the Versailles band busted out "Love like a Sunset," a nearly eight-minute, mostly instrumental song from their new Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
One dude, overcome, yelled, "They're really doing this!" But what of lead singer Thomas Mars, who has no instrumental duties, only vocals? No worries. He simply lay down on the floor of the stage for most of it.
There was something oddly amusing about the gesture. Not only was it a tidy solution to the problem of what does your lead singer do during an instrumental, but it also fit in with Mars's odd stage presence. He isn't what you'd call a "high impact performer." He stumbles and wanders. He plays to the crowd, but only sort of. And yet it works for him. He has no shortage of swagger or charisma, and it all reads as effortless. The whole band, really, seemed to have a similar non-rock nonchalance going on. As they played song after insanely catchy song, you got the sense that they could do this all day without breaking a sweat (with the notable exceptions of the drummer and the keyboardist, who aren't even full-fledged members). They were content to let the crowd do the sweating for them. It did help that it felt like 500 degrees in there.
Over the years, Phoenix have proved so adept at their particular brand of jubilant new-wave pop that almost any selection of their material is going to be satisfying. And each song — most of them from Wolfgang or 2006's It's Never Been like That, sounded pretty much the way it does on record. By the end of the set, you might have thought it was all sounding pretty much the same, but you weren't likely to complain in light of the ass shaking brought on by "Lisztomania," "Long Distance Call," "Consolation Prize," "Lasso," "Sometimes in the Fall," and "Too Young."
Phoenix capped the night with their current single, "1901," everyone gleefully joining in on the "hey hey" part. After that, they waited a few moments, then started in on a reprise of the chorus (the phrase "fold it" repeated three times). Mars hopped off the stage and mingled with the crowd while the band kept on going. Probably just as well they stopped when they did, though — he was starting to look as if another floor nap were in order.