Last Thursday I was able to see The Fiery Furnaces live in Northampon, MA at Pearl Street. Before the show, I figured there were two possibilities based on the Furnaces wildly erratic musical style:
1.) the show would be one of the most entertaining, inventive, and unique live musical performances I have ever attended, possibily even the MOST unique, or...
2.) the show would be a cacophony of sounds that were hard to interpret, understand, or even handle.
I would love to say that it turned out to be #1, but... luckily it also wasn't #2.
The current tour is in support of their last album, Bitter Tea, which compared to some of their previous products (Rehearsing the Choir jumps to mind) is quirky but listenable. Much of the music they played at the show was from their newest release, but they didn't fail to share a few older tracks as well (Single Again struck out as especially enjoyable to me). Don't get me wrong; I love the Furnaces and their music, but their tunes just didn't translate well into a live performance. It was loud, which hid the charming quirkiness, and Eleanor didn't seem quite into it this evening. About half-way through the show she even apologized. That sort of summed up the show for me...loud music, but very little band interaction with the crowd, almost as if they wanted to get through their set and on to the after-party.
I was impressed, however, by the backing band and their stamina, particularly one of the percussionists who I believe was Bob D'Amico (there were 2). Many of the songs were strung together, medley like, resulting in some of the musicians continuously playing for 20 minutes at a time.
Will I see them next time they come around? Ask me then. In the meantime, here's a wonderfully charming, acoustic, live short set recorded last year on KEXP with just Eleanor and Matthew playing. (Someone else posted these earlier this year, but I forget who. I apologize in advance)
The Fiery Furnaces - Intro : Live on KEXP 4-6-05
The Fiery Furnaces - Teach Me, Sweetheart : Live on KEXP 4-6-05
The Fiery Furnaces - Here Comes the Summer : Live on KEXP 4-6-05
The Fiery Furnaces - Interview : Live on KEXP 4-6-05
The Fiery Furnaces - I'm Waiting to Know You : Live on KEXP 4-6-05
The Fiery Furnaces - Police Sweater Blood Vow : Live on KEXP 4-6-05