My job required me to fly to be in Turkey this week meaning that I missed out on going to see Mercury Rev at the Paradiso. I passed the tickets on to my friends Christina and Mirko who kindly wrote the report below. (My first guest post – could this be the start of my online publishing empire?)
Deserter’s songs live in Amsterdam – Tonite it shows
Words and images by Christina and Mirko
Thirteen years after the release of Deserter’s Songs Mercury Rev returned to the Paradiso, the alternative music venue and former church building, to play Deserter’s Songs. Mercury Rev was formed in the late 1980s in Buffalo, New York State. In 1998 they released the Deserter’s Songs album, which was named by NME Magazine as Album of the Year. The earnest, high-pitched vocals of the lead singer (Jonathan Donahue) and concentration on relatively concise, melodic songs gave the band’s material an entirely new feel and much increased popularity (Everyhit.com). Yes, in the last decade Mercury Rev released more good albums but none of them could reach the level of Deserter’s songs. That is exactly why we were looking forward to the gig last Tuesday. Only tracks from Deserter’s Songs were going to be played at the gig, a kind of homage to Mercury Rev’s most successful album.
And a success it was. A high-class, not sold out, gig in a very professional way. All songs passed by such as Goddess On A Hiway, Delta Sun Bottleneck Stomp, Holes, Pick Up If You’re There, Don’t say you miss me when you are drinking beer in the bar and Where did the toothpaste go? Jonathan Donahue really seemed to enjoy the evening, and so did his band members. He was singing in a natural, devoted and relaxed way. It sometimes looked as if he sipped too much of an alcoholic beverage of the grape variety (including potential other ingredients), but he managed to guide his band in an almost orchestral manner. With or without guitar.
Four thumbs up for the drummer – that was quite a show he put on! The highlight of the gig was when the band set in Opus 40, and Paradiso was transferred into a French carousel atmosphere. Too bad the crowd was contrasting, maybe even winding down, the energetic dedication of the band. The fans mainly consisted of middle-aged men with grey hair and beer bellies, (Ed. A good thing I wasn’t there then – I would have added to the beer bellies!) gazing in an apathetical way at the lively band. No clapping hands (no response at all when bass guitarist Carlos Anthony Molina was encouraging this) and no dance moves or anything that can be regarded as such. Dutch Mercury Rev fans are lame and boring. Maybe it is because there were hardly any women around. However in this case it is difficult to distinguish between correlation and causation. Luckily Jonathan Donahue was high on wine, or maybe just a natural high, and he did not to seem to care. The thing he did care for was in front of his eyes, each time when he was preparing for his next line, he caressed the microphone stand up and down multiple times.
The support act also deserves mentioning. A Belgian band called ‘Ancient Country Wisdom’ played mellow songs with a dark edge in the style of Angus and Julia Stone/Ben Howard and another band of which we can’t remember the name.
Thanks Eoghan, we had a delightful, artistic and aurally exciting evening!