Monday, November 10, 2008
Lambchop @ The Union Chapel, 3 November 2008
I was having a chat with a friend recently about the value of consistency in music. Is consistency a good thing and when does it just get boring? How much are we comforted by a familiar sound and how much do we want our favourite artists to try something new? Answers in the comments if you may, but the aforementioned conversation was prompted by the new Lambchop album OH (Ohio), even though at that point I hadn’t heard it. However I sort of knew what to expect. It's now their third album since their 2002 masterwork Is a Woman, and Kurt Wagner and co. seem to have settled into their own gentle groove. The previous two albums haven’t moved me as much as their previous works – Aw C’mon / No You C’mon too sprawling to engage properly and Damaged slipping past rather anonymously. So I thought I knew what to expect from a new album. Consistency at least.
On stage at the Union Chapel tonight there’s more consistency. You know what you’re getting with Lambchop. Kurt Wagner as the genial, yet slightly retiring host, gracious, understated, with occasional bursts of passion. The band behind him making far less noise than you’d expect six people to make, but doing it very skilfully and beautifully. Then, just when you expect it, Kurt turns and says “Mr Tony Crow on piano” and the pianist launches into one of his terrible jokes. But he’s nothing if not self-aware. This is all part of a Lambchop show, and we get all of this tonight.
One thing that’s different is the set list. The new album is played in its entirety, in order, save an interlude towards the end, started by a storming cover of Once in a Lifetime, the only time in the whole set where Wagner rises from his chair, followed by a few songs cherry-picked from their back catalogue. They encore with I Believe in You, Ohio’s final track. This is not a night for the casual Lambchop observer, though as ever, the rendition of Up With People should keep most people happy. The new album does sound familiar and there is that aforementioned consistency. But it sounds warmer, more soulful, without employing the strings of the past, and the band are on top form. So tonight, consistency, familiarity and comfort are definitely good things, and in the beautiful sacred space that is the Union Chapel, with its flickering candles and reverent crowd, it even becomes quite magical.
mp3: Lambchop – All Flowers and Mariachi
mp3: Lambchop – Slipped Dissolved and Loosed
Lambchop myspace / website.
Buy OH (Ohio) from Rough Trade (with a bonus CD!) or download from emusic.