A packed hall awaited the arrival of They Might Be Giants, on the second date of their UK tour. Having started in Brooklyn in 1982 with founder members John Linnell and John Flansburgh often playing as a duo accompanied by a drum machine, they’ve been prolifically releasing albums and touring with a full band of guitars, keys, drums, bass, accordion and a full compliment of effects pedals, percussion and excellently retro visuals.
They bring a brilliantly intimate feel to their show, with both Johns sharing the on stage banter duties giving the whole night something of a Noo Yowk coffee house vibe. They invited all the photographers in the room up onto the stage after the third song to take pictures from behind the band rather than putting the other audience members off and then seemed very disappointed that only two of the several that were in house took them up on the offer. “You could be like, on the stage, man.” Equally encouraging and dismissive of heckling from the crowd, they took a decidedly firm stance on anyone shouting out song suggestions when laughingly responded with “Ok guys, anyone shouting the name of a tune? That tune is off the list. That’s the rules in rock, you know? And we got like 300 tunes we could play so it’s fine by us..”
They are absolutely in the pocket as a live act, sometimes feeling like an almost cabaret band, all kitsch and narrative strong, akin to the Tiger Lilies with dense accordion and perfect diction; at other times they’re epitome of quirky, American, East coast pop and having listened to their full set it suddenly becomes clear how much they must have influenced later generations of bands from Ben Folds Five to The Decemberists but they also bring shoutier, rockier moments.
With a pretty impressive back catalogue to choose from ( over 300 songs people!) they played songs from the 1990’s; ‘Dr Worm’, ‘The Statue Got Me High’, ‘She’s Actual Size’ to later songs ‘Bastard Wants To Hit Me’ and some releases from their recently reinstated ‘Dial-a-song’ project such as ‘Answer’. They were contractually obliged to play ‘Bird House In Your Soul’ which was inevitably a mass drunken sing along and less expected, a blinding version of Beyoncé’s ‘Bills, Bills, Bills’. Brilliant night. And they are giants.
Photographer: Matt Flynn
I also ride horses and can shoot a bow and arrow. One day I fully intend to bring these talents into conjunction with one another.
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