Canadian inidie rockers The New Pornographers waltzed into the grand designs of London’s Koko to blast out their power pop to waiting fans. The Vancouver band, who have now released four albums – the latest being Challengers (Matador, 2007) — are much celebrated in Canada and tonight was the chance for me to not only see the band for the first time, but also hear their sound.
A live setting is always the best way to first experience a band, although standing towards the back of the venue the sound was awful. Squeezing myself to a few rows from the front immediately resulted in a marked improvement in quality (albeit far from perfect), and a prime position to enjoy the show. The members of The New Pornographers on stage each stood under spotlights, rendering them in a glowing white light individually. Against the blackness of the crowd it felt like they were chairing a meeting of a high court, laying down the musical law to their loyal subjects.
They were chairing a meeting of a high court, laying down the musical law to their loyal subjects.
Despite battling against speakers and acoustics fans have since complained vigorously about, The New Pornographers were in full flow apart from Blaine Thurier who looked asleep in front of his Mac. Racing through their set list they give us a varied taste of indie rock that you can happily bop along to on first listen. As well as seven or eight new tracks from Challenger they featured plenty of old material such as a final trilogy of “Mass Romantic”, “Sing Me Spanish Techno” and “The Bleeding Heart Show” which provided an energetic finish to the main set (thanks to my friend for pointing them out). Despite the very poor Koko set up, the efforts of the band more than made up for it, especially given they were performing in their fourth country in five days. They really are a bunch of troopers.
My final conclusion? I really need to get my hands on a few albums by The New Pornographers. Koko, on the other hand, need to buy a new sound system so their live acts sound as good as the venue looks.