Friday, 27 April 2012

The Dandy Warhols - Melkweg, 25 April 2012

Are the Dandy’s still cool after all these years?

“I’m livin’ in the past, I used to be cool” proclaims Courtney Taylor-Taylor on Enjoy Yourself, from the new Dandy Warhols album The Machine. It’s a fantastic line and it begs an answer to the question, are the Dandy’s still cool after all these years?

There is no doubt the Dandy’s used to be cool. Originating from Portland Origin, a city already rich in pop music history, they have lead the Portland hipster movement along with other local products like Elliot Smith, M. Ward, The Decemberists, and more recently Gossip to name but a few. But it’s been a while since they were a regular fixture on commercial radio and the summer festival circuit, so heading into this show it was hard to know where they would fit in the 2012 music scene.

The first sign on a wet Wednesday evening in Amsterdam was that they didn’t have the pulling power they previously enjoyed. The main stage at the Melkweg was very slow to fill up and the upstairs section and side bar were not even open. But in the end it was a decent sized crowd and they were treated to a seriously good rock show.

The years of playing together showed and they were super tight, with minimal time wasted between songs. The only real exception being when they had to start over again about 30 seconds into Bohemian Like You, having got their timing completely wrong. A pretty funny moment, especially given it’s their biggest song. Who knows how many times they must have played that song over the past 10 years!

Bohemian Like You

They delivered a great mix of psychedelic jams along with their more radio friendly tunes and the set included all of the big singles that everyone was there to hear. Courtney still looked like one of the cool kids with his man-bun hair and his white jeans – very appropriate for Amsterdam in the spring. And not much had changed since I saw them the first time back in 2000, with Zia McCabe still completely carrying them on stage. She might not be the ‘musical genius’ of Courtney but she is funny and sexy, and lights up the stage with her trippy dancing, semi-choreographed tambourine playing and warm banter with the audience.

The only downside to the night was the sound. It was hard to tell if it was just the mix but at times Courtney really sounded out of key. His low pitch drawl was always good but when he went for the higher notes something wasn't sounding quite right. Mid show the band left the stage and he performed a solo cover of Kristin Hersh's Your Ghost. Given how beautiful the original version is, it’s a pretty tough song to cover. I really enjoyed it in-the-moment as an interesting live cover but I can’t see them ever pulling off a recorded version of the song.

Your Ghost

The highlight of the night probably came right towards the end of the set when Courtney actually spoke to the crowd for the first time. He started with standard line about loving Amsterdam, that we all love to hear but may have seen before (‘cause nobody rocks like….. Springfield). However he then went on to explain how he had lived on Jacob Obrechtstraat* while writing most of Thirteen Tales of Urban Bohemia and what a great experience it had been and how much he enjoyed the city. He even tried his best Dutch pronunciations of a few words which got a nice laugh from the Dutch crowd.

With no encore (which seems to be becoming a theme for 2012) it was a solid set with all the hits played, some good jams, a great light show and some warm and slightly unexpected interaction with the crowd. They might not be the headliners they were 10 years ago but the Dandy’s are still cool in my books.

* credit to the G-man for first knowing where this street was and then being able to recall it the following day.

No comments:

Post a Comment