It was just over a decade ago that The Shins came into the limelight. In 2001, James Mercer and his bandmates (at the time) put out Oh, Inverted World. For me, I caught wind of the band in about 2003 and it took mere seconds before I fell in love with their sound, specifically James’ voice. In 2005, I saw them along with M. Ward in support of the White Stripes on the ever-amazing Coney Island in Brooklyn. By the time Wincing the Night Away released in 2007, I was a full-blown fan. From there on out, I stayed in tune with Mercer’s happenings, to even include his side project, Broken Bells.
Somewhere in 2009 the band started to change shape with some new faces to replace the founding members. Now James is backed by an entirely new line up from the Coney Island show I mentioned above. The new band consists of Modest Mouse drummer Joe Plummer, Yuuki Matthews of Crystal Skulls, Jessica Dobson on guitar and Richard Swift on keys. Port of Marrow was released in March of this year at the same time that the band kicked off a tour in Europe to support said album. In April they touched back down in The States and hit the ground running in support of their the new album. I was happy to catch them in Boston on this fine Friday evening a few weeks back.
CIti Performing Arts Center (AKA “Wang Theatre”) is one of the most gorgeous theatres that I have ever stepped foot in to date. In walking through the lobby into the main foyer, I looked up to a muraled ceiling that seemed to be about three stories high with balconies looking down from all angles. Two large vintage chandeliers hung from the center and every square inch seemed to be slathered in gold leaf or made of beautifully polished marble.
As per usual, I sadly missed the opening act on account of traffic from CT to Boston. Real Estate was just finishing as I made my way into the seats. From the little I did hear, they were a very complimentary start to the evening. The crowd was mature and the staff was extremely friendly. Walking down towards the stage, Beastie Boys was coming through the house sound. #RIPMCA
The lights dimmed down and the band took stage slowly. The fans were happy to see them and they were happy to be back in Boston. They opened with “Caring is Creepy” and followed with “Australia.” From where I was allowed to photograph, I wasn’t able to get a good enough shot of one of my favorite sites of the evening: a female guitarist…rocking out! It made me smile all the same.
The stage was set with the scene from the cover of their new album. Perched on top of the hill was this Donnie Darko looking rabbit figure. The show lighting was great and highlighted the three dimensional scene as it moved about the stage and the crowd. The band was set almost as if they were at the base of the hill. As I was admiring the simplistic yet unique stage decor, they started to play “Simple Song,” the first single off of their latest release.
After my time in the pit, I slowly made my way into my seat to enjoy the rest of the performance. My seat just happened to be pretty much smack in the very middle of the room which made for an excellent spot. “Bait and Switch”, “The Rifle’s Spiral”, “No Way Down” and “It’s Only Life” from the new album were played intermittently between favorites like “Saint Simon”, “So Says I”, “Kissing the Lipless” and “New Slang.” And if one hadn’t known the band was different from earlier albums, they might have never known. The sound was amazing and James’ voice, that I love so much, was flawless. He sings with much intensity and kind of looks like a smaller Kevin Spacey (randomly noted).
They played for a good long while and closed the show with “Sleeping Lessons” and as soon as the build up of that song reached its break, everyone started singing at the top of their lungs. The stage lights began dancing around the theatre and Joe (on drums) was going to town on his kit!
….Just put yourself in my new hooves,
And see that I do what I do…
The band walked off stage waving and smiling in modest fashion as the crowd cheered and pleaded for more. After a few moments off, James returned to stage alone (donning a different shirt) and made mention of how they/he always have a good time in the city of Boston. He stood under a light with his acoustic guitar around his neck and he played “September” off of the new album. Afterwards, the rest of the band took stage and they proceeded to play another two new ones and the mood remained pretty mellow.
Before the last song of the evening, James introduced the new members to his band, thanked the crew, the opening act and us. “Good Night! Be Safe!” he says as they made their way into “One by One All Day.”
The Shins @ Wang Theatre, Boston, MA 5.4.2012
Caring is Creepy
Bait and Switch
No Way Down (new upbeat version)
So Says I
Kissing the Lipless
Mine’s Not a High Horse
It’s Only Life
Sleeping Lessons (rocked the f*** out!!)
September (acoustic – just James)
40 Mark Strasse
Port of Morrow
One By One All Day