Live Review: Clinic, Shearwater - Troubadour - Los Angeles, CA
Wed, 21 May 2008 12:45:08
Clinic never seemed the safest bet to remain relevant and continue drawing good-sized crowds a decade after they got together. Their energetic, dance-friendly rock wasn't quite as accessible as bands like Franz Ferdinand—nor was their timing as fortunate. But they've largely stayed the course, and a loyal contingent of fans greeted them on a Tuesday night at LA's venerable Trouabdour.
The Liverpudlians came to town to promote their fifth album, Do It!, released earlier this year. It's tempting to imagine the band members rolling their eyes backstage as they strap on their clinical masks, but any gimmick fatigue they're experiencing is outweighed by their comfort level together on stage—and, hey, at least they got to trade in those hospital smocks for festive Hawaiian shirts. Tied together with a trippy light display, their set tapped into the vein of rousing psychedelic rock without drifting into overindulgent guitar solos and 10-minute songs.
“their set tapped into the vein of rousing psychedelic rock”
There wasn't a lot of variance in their set, and they aren't known for being especially charismatic performers. Nonetheless, Clinic managed a commanding set; a perk of their slow, stylistic arc is that it helps facilitate a very smooth set list, as new songs comfortably coexist with older cuts from the catalog. As lead singer, Ade Blackburn is the de facto leader of the band, and he's a fine live performer, but it's the rhythm section that really stood out, giving Clinic an immediacy that they don't always capture in the studio. If you were into Clinic at some point but lost touch with them as the years floated by, a live show is probably the perfect place in which to get reacquainted.
“Shearwater's live performances are bold and big-voiced...the band can raise a mighty ruckus”
Clinic's current tourmates are the Austin-based, Matador-signed men and women of Shearwater, whose latest album, Rook was release on June 3. Frontman, Jonathan Meiburg, once split songwriting time with Will Sheff, before Okkervil River began demanding all of Sheff's time (Meiburg, in turn, also played with Okkervil). Since those bands diverged, Meiburg has steered Shearwater into increasingly challenging waters. His live performances are bold and big-voiced, almost verging on theatrics at times, and the band can raise a mighty ruckus—but then, just as quickly, retreat into gorgeously fragile falsettos and piano pieces.