Okkervil River @ Phoenix Concert Theatre (Oct 12, 2008)
Co-headlining tours are an odd thing, as was the case of Okkervil River's previous gig at the Phoenix back in April which brought them to the city with Vancouver's The New Pornographers. You'd think that two acts capable of headlining the venue being on one bill should mathematically, if this could be quantified, be doublly entertaining. However, co-headlining tours inevitably means someone has to go on second last which was the case with Okkervil River last time. It wasn't that their last show was terrible but it did feel like they held back a bit either because of the shortened time slot or perhaps not wanting to upstage the The New Pornographers too much. In any case, it was not the ideal situation to experience Okkervil River.
On the other hand, Okkervil River's Canadian Thanksgiving weekend show last Sunday night was terrific fun. Apologies to openers Crooked Fingers who I missed yet again, this time because of Thanksgiving dinner festivities on my part. However, with precision timing I made it to the venue just before Okkervil River came on but as the first strains of 'Plus Ones' rang out I quickly found a sweet spot near the front at stage right to watch the show. With Will Sheff even wishing us a Happy Thanksgiving at one point, the night overall was one of a celebratory mood, with the energy and enthusiasm one could expect from a band on their best nights. The night was neatly divided between their last two efforts "The Stand Ins" and "The Stage Names" with a few from "Black Sheep Boy" and pulling out a couple of tracks from "Don't Fall In Love With Everyone You See" for the encore" and with Will's gradual disrobement from suit jacket, to dress-shirt, to t-shirt it was apparent that the band was having fun as were the audience who handclapped and participated in group singalongs at times. Maintaining the momentum right up till the very end of the main set, the final four songs of the main set was nearly perfect with 'Lost Coastlines'("The Stand Ins"). 'Our Life Is Not A Movie Or Maybe'("The Stage Names"), 'For Real'("Black Sheep Boy") and 'Unless It Kicks'("The Stage Names"). It felt like a headrush into total deliriousness. As such it wasn't a surprise that the encore was comparatively more tame, initiated with the achingly beautiful 'A Girl In Port'. Although I'd been critical with Will's what I'd perceived to be vocal affectations during their last show, this time around there was a heartfelt honesty in his voice.
Photos: Okkervil River @ Phoenix Concert Theatre (Oct 12, 2008)
Thanks to Black Sheep Girl for posting a setlist.
Chromewaves has had his review of the show up for a while now. A new blog I haven't checked out before My Aimz Is True also has a review of the show.
Myspace: Okkervil River
Psst. My review of the Stereolab show at the Phoenix on October 8, 2008 is now up - see the previous blog post.