But it was also a special occasion. In celebration of the 13th anniversary of Thirteen Tales of Urban Bohemia, they performed the album in its entirety. It started off strong with the triptych of “Godless,” “Mohammed” and “Nietzsche,” but it began to dawn on me – I can’t hear the vocals! It took a moment for me to determine whether it was a conscious choice or an engineering problem, and I realized it had to be the latter.
The band was certainly in fine form but sounded as if they had decided to reinterpret Thirteen Tales as a shoegazer album. Of course, the room was packed with fans who knew all the lyrics anyhow, but it wasn’t as satisfying to yell “Whoo-hoo-HOO!” during the performance of the seminal “Bohemian Like You” when you could barely hear frontman Courtney Taylor-Taylor.
When the album was finished, they went onto other favorites from their repertoire. Launching into the wonderful “The Last High” (whose lyrics were also unfortunately smothered), Taylor-Taylor suddenly stopped the song and delivered an incomprehensible tirade about leaving their records once they were through with them and promising to be better before starting over again. And he performed “Every Day Should Be a Holiday” on solo guitar as a singalong – a peculiar choice since the chorus doesn’t exactly go tripping over the tongue.
Taylor-Taylor also announced that next year will be the band’s 20th anniversary, which is terrific, but to my mind it brought into sharp relief the fact that they weren’t performing any songs from their most recent albums, Earth to the Dandy Warhols and This Machine, both of which have many high points (“The Autumn Carnival” being a particular favorite). It’s too soon for them to become their own revival band, reveling in former glories. Compare this show to last year’s Smashing Pumpkins Oceania tour. Instead of burying their latest album, Corgan and company proudly performed it in its entirety before offering up old faves.
And the Warhols didn’t give an encore. Instead, keyboardist Zia McCabe noodled miscellaneous electronica for about five minutes while the audience awaited a return that never happened. An odd end to an odd night, indeed. Last May’s Los Angeles appearance was much better. Not having to focus on something “eventful,” they offered up a fun blend of old and new songs. Everyone seemed to be having a good time (and the audio was fine).
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not through with the Warhols yet. I just want them to continue moving forward.