By Jon Bream
It’s often hard to measure up to the first time you see a band. There’s something about that sense of discovery.
That was the case with Phoenix Tuesday at instantly sold-out First Avenue. After getting hooked by the French band’s performance on Saturday Night Live, I loved them live at the Varsity Theater in June. This quick return engagement started strong and ended even stronger, but, with an uneventful middle set, it lacked the consistent excitement of the Varsity gig. Moreover, gangly, mop-top frontman Thomas Mars, still the charmer, wasn’t as physically active as last time. He did give props to the internationally famous First Avenue and, at one point, asked the crowd to join him in doing “the Prince clap” (a double-time bit).
While Mars didn’t always shine, the un-introduced touring drummer (the quartet has two extra players on tour) did. He was so wildly enthusiastic and pile-drivingly potent that he became a valuable visual as much as the blinding columns of bright lights at the back of the stage.
Drawing heavily from this year’s beloved “Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix” album, the 80-minute set was very similar in content to the Varsity’s.
Here is Tuesday’s set: Lisztomania/Long Distance Call/Lasso/Napoleon
Says/Armistice/Fences/Girlfriend/Love Like a Sunset/Consolation Prizes/Rally/Run Run Run/Rome with Funky Square Dance ENCORE If I Ever Feel Better/Too Young/1901