Friday, June 24, 2005

Every show like it's the last one.

Sleater-Kinney at Roseland, NYC
Thursday, June 23

A simply stunning show. One of the very best I've seen them perform. Even being familiar with the new album, it was surprising just how much heavier the band sounds now. Even the old songs bennefitted from the new approach. While Corin was the star of my last S-K gig at Irving Plaza in 2004, this time it was all about Janet. Fuck the "good female drummer" bullshit and let's say it plain: she's the best drummer in rock right now, period. Yeah, Dave Grohl can sit back down. My pal Dave rightly compared her to some unholy blend of John Bonham and Keith Moon. She's kicked up her game several notches even since the last tour. Never heard her playing louder, harder, more inventively, or with such a firm grasp of dynamics. So powerful without ever showboating. Not to say that the rest of the band wasn't in fine form. Corin shredded many of the songs and even though she seemed to lose her voice a bit towards the end of the regular set, she was in full force for the last five songs of the show. I've never seen Carrie more animated - pogoing around the stage for half the show, crouching down, doing windmills and a slinky duckwalk. Her guitar playing drove the literally epic jam out of "Let's Call It Love" which was longer but much more structured, coherent, and exicting than on the album. She was feeling it - nice to see after the Irving Plaza gig where she seemed a little lost at times.

In interviews the band has been flirting with talk of breaking up the band. Corin openly wonders about retirement and Carrie's said "I play every show like its my last, because as far as I'm concerned it is." They certainly left it all on the stage last night. The good news is that they seemed to be having a good time, Corin jumping about during the jam and throwing in uncharacteristic hand gestures during "The Fox" and "Step Aside." Even if she did look a little nonplussed during Carrie's long solo during "What's Mine Is Yours." Still, it's hard to imagine why they'd want to walk away at the very top of their game.

The highlights: a never better "Light Rail Coyote" so unhingled and explosive that it made the album version sound tame; "Sympathy" which detonated like a sledgehammer and got scary in the middle shouty section; the roiling groove of "Rollercoaster"; "Faraway" also kicked up several notches from the recorded version with Janet adding new beats; a careening "Jumpers"; the taut "Everything" - still don't know why this is only a B side; the long but mind-bending jam of "Let's Call It Love" into "Entertain." The Richard & Linda Thompson cover was loud and grungy but still sweet, each of the ladies singing a chorus with Corin proving that she could be a straight torch singer if she ever chose. The encore really came alive during the last two songs - Corin belting out "Words and Guitar" with serious bravado. The crowd was amazing throughout, really into it, and refused to go away until they got a second encore. Carrie came out and dedicated the next song "to Glenn." It was Danzig's "Mother" - so metal, so perfect. You could see each of the ladies smiling at this point. The tune ended with a huge rave-up, Janet bashing the drums at light speed and then holding up her sticks in the shape of a cross, the signal for Carrie to launch into the riff for "Dig Me Out." What more could you ask for?

The setlist - pretty close to proper order:

The Fox
One More Hour
Light Rail Coyote
Modern Girl
What's Mine Is Yours
Steep Air
Let's Call It Love

1st encore:
I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight
Step Aside
Words and Guitar

2nd encore:
Dig Me Out


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