On The List :: The New Pornographers @ Terminal 5 [12.6.10]

This review runs live and in color on Bowery's House List.

Neko Case, one part of Canadian rock band the New Pornographers, flicked absentmindedly at the zipper on her sweatshirt before visibly, but not sheepishly, yawning as frontman Carl Newman spat wry bits of magnanimity to the crowd. But Case wasn’t bored. She would later confess that her house had caught fire, she had been involved in a car accident, she had been dumped and she was convinced the whole band was going to die on their flight to London the next day. So you could forgive her for seeming a little distant. But these unassuming reveals wove the fabric of a tangible anti-heroism, even for a band that seems to take pride in coming out of the phone booth in the same clothes they went in with.

The night opened with the stomping and churning of “Moves,” the centerpiece of which is the lyric “These things get louder.” It wasn’t exactly a promise, rather a reminder as the band wandered through their five-album catalog, touching on quieter moments, “Adventures in Solitude,” and approaching serious bombast on the third song, “It’s Only Divine Right.” The New Pornographers’ sonic evolution was obvious from this range, stretching from the 2003 power-pop anthem “The Laws Have Changed” to the orchestral “We End Up Together,” off the most recent record, Together, each sharing the same foot-shuffling excellence that this group seems so uninterested in advertising.

Before an encore including the stunning “Challengers,” “Up in the Dark” and crowd-favorite “Sing Me Spanish Techno,” Newman and his unassuming band closed their main set with “The Bleeding Heart Show.” Even with all of Case’s heartbreak on the table, it was not the title lyric that stood out larger than the 36-inch illuminated letters spelling out NEW PORNOGRAPHERS behind the stage. For the rapt thousands of spectators, even with a group that seems to deny the possibility of such a triumph, the words rang out in the West 50s and across the river: “We have arrived.”

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