The Fiery Furnaces
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- Cargo, London »
Oh, Eleanor. The double denim. Beloved of Bewitched and Bon Jovi. Is this a club you wish to be a member of? What does Mr Kapranos think of it all, hmmmm? Matt's certainly not happy about something. Eleanor calls him “grumpy”. We can all tell he's grumpy. Wonder why. He seems to perk up halfway through.
Maybe it took him that long to get over support act Pete Um, who stutters his way through his set of glitchy electronica spoken word. He's a less poetic journal entry version of George Pringle, his tone all slurred, speaking along with himself on his own backing track. Stand outs include 'You Maybe Understand', which mixes a vocal sample with strident beats to make some kind of quirky dance track. Considering the half finished feel of the rest of his short/concise song ridden set, it shows sunbeams through the fog - a forward direction, movement.
The Fiery Furnaces have too much material now, seven albums in, to mess up. It's more a question of what you leave out, in a set that takes in songs from each and every record. As last year's live album 'Remember' showed, the band are one of the finest on the circuit. Rejigging, seguing and reinventing the recorded versions into new beasts, lithe and guitar driven (the piano stays in America, this tour). They are yet to abandon the old medleys that won them acclaim, although they now dominate less. There are breaks for applause. The sound is rockier, and dancier. Songs get new riffs - 'Drive To Dallas' sees the repeated lines twisted, notes added, evolving over and over until it returns to the original. It's almost prog, and showcases Matt's skills. The whole band are stupidly talented, with Jason Lowenstein (he of Sebadoh fame) churning out rapid bass riffs of rare character, and Eleanor's siren vocals.
The band open with a delicate 'Rub Alcohol Blues' that could fall into threads in a delicate breeze, the gauze like frailty of the song met with a hushed crowd. Later things get more buoyant, 'Staring At The Steeple' turned up high, distorted. It leads to an outbreak of dancing, and some goon getting on stage. Eleanor's curt dismissal, finger pointing back to the crowd sends the whelp packing, metaphorical tail between legs. She doesn't miss a beat. It's a highlight, along with a full rendition of every part of 'Chris Michaels' from 'Blueberry Boat'.
The encore sees requests - 'Duffer St George' gets a rare airing, the crowd cheering at the mention of “Fabric in Shoreditch” (surely Clerkenwell, guys?), 'Single Again' with its twisting of domestic abuse into nursery rhyme and more cuts from 'Gallowsbird's Bark'. 'Tropical Ice Land', probably the band's best known song, finishes off the first encore, before the band bizarrely return to play 'Charmaine Champagne', again. Again. They surely weren't out of material?
Tonight is an occasion to stand back, and listen to the ground the band have covered in the past seven years. Tonight is an occasion to soak up words, and guitars. Tonight is a night to work out that experimental indie like this is really just the pop music of tomorrow. Celebrate futurism. Celebrate The Fiery Furnaces.