CMJ 2008: The Dears | Hiro Ballroom | 10.23.2008

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It may be an almost entirely new line-up but The Dears still got it. Murray Lightburn still gives it his all, and if the new band doesn't quite have the swagger of the line-up I loved of the last four years, they are getting there. It helps that this Dears is touring behind the just-released MISSILES which is light years better than 2006's rushed and murky-sounding (yet still good despite) Gang of Losers, the making and touring of which caused its meltdown. Only Lightburn and keyboardist (and Lightburn's wife) Natalia Yanchak remain, though some of the band played on the new album. 

So here were are at one of NYC's cooler-looking clubs with pro lighting, sound and smoke machines — all of which aid in the Dears' air of epic grandeur. The new band is tight, especially on the MISSILES tracks which make up the bulk of the set. "Dream Job" and the Lightburn-Yanchak duet "Crisis." It was when they dipped into material from the last two records that the difference was apparent. While "Lost in the Plot" and "The Death of All the Romance" sounded right, but without George Donoso going Animal-style on his kit and Patrick Krief's emotive guitar-playing style (again, swagger) you realize what you're missing.

The difference was underlined by Patrick Krief standing at the side of the stage the whole time, singing along to all the new material. He was loving it. I kept wanting him to jump up on stage and grab a guitar. Glad to know there are a few unburnt bridges in the Dears camp. Now I don't want to dis the new lineup — they're very good, especially guitarist Jason Kent who brings the visual panache needed to be in The Dears — it's just when you've seen one band blow you away time and time again for three years, a rebuilt engine takes some getting used to. But when epic MISSILES track "Lights Off" hit the midway point where it takes off into the stratosphere of solos that The Dears are still capable of making the hair stand up on the back of your neck. Like I said, they've still got it.

SETLIST: Disclaimer / Money Babies / Berlin Heart / Crisis I & II / Lost in the Plot / Bandwagoneers / Lights Off / Demons / Whites-Only Party / 22: The Death Of All The Romance / Meltdown in A Major

MP3The Dears – Crisis I & II (Buy MISSILES)

I would also like to say Hiro Ballroom is a great place to see a show — it's a beautiful room, with awesome sound and even better lighting. (Why do most clubs have such crappy lighting?) But with $7 beer and the dreaded Bathroom Attendents, it's not a place I want to hang out. More reviews: Brooklyn Vegan | NY Mag

I shot video of "Dreams" too… take a gander:

2 Comments

  1. They're not playing here in Philly on this tour, but maybe they'll come here again next year. In any case, I'm surprised that you like Missiles (which I haven't been able to get into at all, honestly) more than Gang of Losers. I remember you liking GoL a lot at the time, saying they "hit it out of the park", but I guess it didn't retain its staying power? I haven't listened to it in a while myself, but still think of it as really good but not as good as No Cities Left, their breakthrough. In any case I'm relieved to hear that they've still got it live and that there's still some older stuff in the setlist, too.

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