I don’t think I will ever tire of Joe Pernice‘s voice. It’s a little like Colin Blunstone’s, whispery but clear, and capable of sliding into a falsetto that doesn’t sound campy. His pipes were in fine form at the Mercury Lounge last night, despite the show being at the tail end of a fairly extensive tour and Joe looking a little rough — burly, bearded, wearing a loose flannel shirt.
Shaven or not it was another really nice show. It started a little too nice. While The Pernice Brothers have never exactly rocked, the last couple albums have been a bit sterile, production-wise; likewise, the show began very gently with "High as a Kite" from their new album Live a Little, and the mid-tempo, not-too-loud numbers kept coming. "Weakest Shade of Blue," "Conscience Clean"…"Ballad of Bjorn Bjorg"…"There Goes the Sun." I just wanted the band to turn up the volume and let loose, if just a little.
Then, about ten songs in, they played "Microscopic View" which featured a lot of keyboards, which were turned up. When the other instruments kicked in, they were louder too, and everything just got better. We were then treated to a fantastic cover of the Zombies’ anti-war parable "Butcher’s Tale". The song was never one of my favorites from Odessey & Oracle, but The Pernice Brothers gave it a real kick in the pants (almost Decemberisty, as Jack Rabid noted). It was better than the Zombies’. They kept the momentum going the rest of the show, with a good mix from all their albums, though no "Grudge Fuck" which was disappointing.
One of the interesting things about the current lineup was the contrast between the two guitarists. Peyton Pinkerton was coming from a new wave school, lots of delay and other effects, where Brit James Walbourne was more soulful, playing some awesome Badfinger-y slide guitar when not manning the keyboards (or saxophone!). Walbourne was especially awesome on a encore cover of Olivia Newton John’s 1975 hit "Please Mr. Please." Yes the words "awesome" and "Olivia Newton John" can exist in the same sentence.
There were probably just as many people there to see tour mates Elvis Perkins as the Pernice Brothers. Perkins has been getting a lot of attention, and it was apparent last night that he’s got a devoted fan base. Deservedly so. They came off like a pared-down, less affected Decemberists, and Perkins voice at times was a dead ringer for Jeff Magnum’s (much more than Colin Meloy’s ever was if you ask me). I see why people adore him, but I don’t think I’ll be joining the fanclub — it all felt a little too familiar to me.
I did like what I saw of the night’s first band, Sono Oto, who shared some members with Elvis Perkins and practiced in bouncy, piano-driven pop that wasn’t that far from The Left Banke or the Turtles.
Photo swiped from Tammylo’s Flickr photostream .