I’ve been waiting a long time for this – FREELANCE WHALES standing barely six feet in front of me, doing live versions of songs from the album I’ve been obsessing over all year.
The New York quintet immediately take the sequential route, playing Weathervanes’ opening three tracks in order – Generator ^ First Floor, the lush synthpop of Hannah and gorgeously pulsing ballad Location.
Often all five members harmonise with serene effect, but with Judah Dadone cast in the role of frontman, it’s noticeable that his singing voice doesn’t quite have the same quirky squeak it does on record.
The intricacies that make Weathervanes such a go-back-to listen can’t help but turn their live set into enchantment as lesser-spotted instruments are swapped, with Doris Cellar flitting between bass and harmonium, Chuck Criss occasionally favouring the rush of glockenspiel, and breakouts of banjo on delicate songs such as Broken Horse.
They end with Generator ^ Second Floor, and a rare opportunity to cut loose on electric guitar, which really is as boisterous as Freelance Whales get.
THE NEW PORNOGRAPHERS are an altogether less twee prospect, and one I have to confessing being far less familiar with, despite a celebrated career now spanning five albums.
But the meaty guitar licks and hooks of the Vancouver collective are deeply addictive and each time I think about calling it a night, song after song pulls me back into their world.
The irresistibly dippy Crash Years, which prompts a spot of impressive mid-song whistling, sounds like vintage Fleetwood Mac, while Your Hands (Together) is an almost wilfully unfashionable slab of retro-rock.
Borrowing from the past is clearly something The New Pornographers do rather well, although one would hope that the riff of Sweet Talk, Sweet Talk which bears an uncanny resemblance to Black Eyed Peas’ infinitely more irritating I Gotta Feeling is purely coincidence.
Freelance Whales – Hannah
The New Pornographers – Crash Years