Live Music review: The Shins

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The ShinsMy girlfriend has The Shins CD Chutes Too Narrow and I’d given it a perfunctory listen, but was a bit turned off by the lead singer tending to strain at the top of his register, and also some strange impression I’d formed of him being some annoying West US coast surfer with a backing band … god knows where I got that from—I certainly couldn’t have been more wrong. This bunch of incredibly likeable lads from Portland, Ohio, put on a fantastic show at the Metro in Sydney last week. Supported ably by our own ’78 Saab, whose crisp rock show left me wanting more, The Shins were fun, entertaining, and obviously having a great time. Not surprising considering their last show down here was at the Gaelic Club, a venue about a fifth of the size, and this time they’d sold out the Metro with a crowd that was going crazy.

Singer/songwriter James Mercer’s voice comes off better live, but centre stage was occupied by the grinning keyboard/guitar player, who did most of the talking and was infectiously happy—”Do that thing you do James!”. Mercer was no doubt fully occupied by playing the guitar and getting out his poetic, bizarre and very convoluted lyrics to reply. Also worthy of mention were the snappy, interesting rhythms that came out of a big drummer with a surprisingly light touch. This is complex, interesting pop (in the old sense of the word) played with great confidence and fun.

Four planes flying into the sea out of five.

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