Blur's Damon Albarn once aptly crooned that, "You've got to have the best tunes, or that's it -- you've blown it."
Spoon is proof for aspiring musicians everywhere that, in today's image-conscious, MTV-preened music industry, it's all about the tunes. The band's Sept. 25 show at the Cat's Cradle proved that sometimes the best thing a band can do is just play its songs.
As indie rock circles go, Spoon doesn't aspire to Pavement's throne, nor does it fit into the same discordant niche as the White Stripes.
Instead of preoccupying himself with promoting an image, frontman Britt Daniel was content to run through the band's highlights from its last few albums and EPs.
"30 Gallon Tank," from A Series of Sneaks showed off the band's edgy, lo-fi-rock chops, and Kill The Moonlight's "Someone Something" moved the band into sleek clap-and-shout pop territory.
What made Spoon's live show so exhilarating was the band's ability to switch gears midset.
One moment, during "Take A Walk," Spoon felt like a post-punk/new-wave cover band. The next moment, the band eased into a lounge-pop groove with the smooth, shimmering "Chicago at Night."
These shifts in style were only possible due to the same lack of ego and pretension that has kept the band from Strokes-like attention.
Frontman Britt Daniel's live performance carried the same raspy intensity and slurred enunciation that marks his albums. But it was his physical presence that made Spoon's show come alive.
Whether flitting around the stage, laughing and making eyes at the audience, or commanding attention with his pre-emptive-rock-guitar-knee-jerks, Daniel owned the stage and the audience's respect.
Keyboardist Kevin Lovejoy also proved himself a valuable asset to the band's set. In combination with Daniel's warped guitar, his ambient noodlings transformed "Paper Tiger" from a haunting, distant drone to an eery, in-your-face freak-out.
The highlight of the show was "Jonathan Fisk," which closed the band's first encore and swept the crowd into a head-banging frenzy with its tumbling major chord progression.
The show's only disappointment came with the second encore. Spoon just wasn't able to carry the intensity of "Jonathan Fisk" into obscure and less-exciting material.
Even so, the show propelled the band even further away from both art rock posing and The Strokes' aloof posturing.
And in the process, it proved that Spoon has nothing less than the best tunes.
The Arts & Entertainment Editor can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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