Spoon mainman Britt Daniel @TLAPhilly last night by JOSH PELTA-HELLER
A looming nor’easter didn’t seem to dampen attendance or enthusiasm last night at the TLA where Spoon fans packed the room like sardines on a school night. When the house lights were cut, Alex Fischel took his place in the dark at his keyboards, and proceeded to stab at the first notes of his intro to “Do I Have To Talk You Into It” before Britt Daniel and co. emerged moments later to warm howls.
This show sold out fast,” marveled Daniel, “in like a day?” He wasn’t quite telling the whole truth when he admitted that the band hadn’t had a chance to headline a Philly show “on this tour.” It wasn’t wrong, outright – it was just a lie by omission: the fact is, Spoon hasn’t played a proper Philly venue show since they played the Electric Factory, ten years ago, touring behind their 2007 release Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga. Sure, they’ve been here twice, in the interim – opening for Arcade Fire at the Mann in 2010, and for a set at WXPN’s XPoNential Fest last year – but it’s just not the same, and it leaves that unanswered question about why their extensive touring schedule in support of the last three records reminds you of the sign on I-95 in Wilmington that points north directly “to New York.”
The band dialed back the adrenaline after the opener with the lazy lounge beat of “Inside Out,” and offered crowd-pleaser “I Turn My Camera On” before covering Wire’s “Lowdown.” A student of stagecraft and a natural showman, Daniel seems to design his setlists with a thoughtful and deliberate premeditation. He’s a master of momentum, controlling cadence, rolling the end of one song into the intro of the next, when it makes sense.
Halfway through the show, the band’s newest member and second keyboardist Gerardo Larios leaned into the first tones “Via Kannela,” the ambient instrumental they’ve been using to curate the mood before Daniel opens his vocals to his antihero ballad “I Ain’t The One.” His somber tenor was interrupted in traditional Philly style by one fan’s expression of impatience with the interlude: “Let’s go!” Spoon didn’t sweat that. But as Daniel reached the end of the song, the stage’s proverbial fourth wall was eroded when a woman yelled from the crowd, “we love you Britt!,” and you could see the lanky, black-clad Texan smile, just a little.–JOSH PELTA-HELLER