Having enjoyed the album since its release earlier this year (the free download is available here), I leapt at the opportunity to see them perform it live. What I wasn't expecting was that the band would play nearly as fast and loose with their own version of Aja as they had with the original. Instrumental passages grew longer, sometimes launching into the ether, and there was a sense that they were still finding new crevices to explore in the songs. It was facinating to watch how carefully they were listening to each other, which is likely what kept the thing from going off the rails.
|Michael le Riche|
Their ability to continue to play around with Aja made the concert a thrilling experience, with the 35 year old songs sounding white hot, as if they had just been written. They took the stage wordlessly and slammed through Black Cow and Aja without coming up for air. Deacon Blues, with its unsettled rhythm, came next, and it was another case of Becker & Fagen's film-noir themes meshing perfectly with The Darcys approach. Peg still holds its place as the brightest song in the set, although the fast tempo and Michael le Riche's nearly punk guitar lent it an urgency that bordered on desperation. Le Riche's guitar deserves special mention overall. Through his use of effects, some of which he built himself, he has developed one of the most distinctive guitar sounds going, a sort of serrated yet sleek sound that is surprisingly versatile. It is equally well suited to the fine songs on The Darcys self-titled debut, released last year and also available as a free download.
|The pedals of le Riche.|
For openers we heard Mexican rock band Rey Pila, who brought some intriguing hints of Bill Nelson and early Simple Minds to their colorful sound. Two things really stuck out as needing improvement, however. First of all, in a five-piece band, having no back-up vocals is a huge missed opportunity. The bassist and/or guitarists chiming in on the choruses and bridges would have obviated the singer's need to go all emo at those points in many songs. Even if none of the other guys can sing, he may want to look into the virtues of restraint as his voice sounded much better when he wasn't over-doing it.