It’s long been cool to be into Spoon. Whether you’re a young would-be hipster, still in school, or an over-the-hill one with school kids of your own, Spoon are cool. They’ve got as much indie-cred as anyone out there, and are the right size of big, enough that they’re not struggling in clubs, but they’re not headlining giant stadiums. They consistently put out good records, all of which manage to keep what’s great about them, while not feeling repetitive. Their back catalog is deep enough to have classics and deep cuts, but not so lengthy as to require extensive study. They play late at big festivals, but aren’t the masses-there-for headliner. They’re big, but can still feel personal.
These qualities were on display when Spoon played the first of two nights at Brooklyn Steel, Tuesday, November 28th.
“Isn’t this better than Terminal 5?” Frontman Britt Daniel joked early on, comparing well-into-the-borough Brooklyn Steel (QRO venue review) to midtown Manhattan’s massive space (QRO venue review), adding, “Liam Gallagher doesn’t care about you,” a jibe at the Oasis singer who played a solo show there the night before (and had walked off the stage after just four songs on the first day of Lollapalooza this year – QRO photos – the same day that Spoon would later play in full in the rain – QRO photos). While the deep Brooklyn Steel isn’t what one would call ‘intimate’ (and is owned & run by the same company as Terminal 5, Bowery Presents) the band is closer to the fans than at the three-story T5, and even the bartenders found the joke funny (it’s not as close to the subway, unfortunately, as the L train stopped working just after the show ended, with even the replacement shuttle bus shuttling passengers to stops that were shutting down…).
Touring off of this year’s Hot Thoughts (QRO review), the set list naturally leaned towards the new album, starting with opener “Do I Have To Talk You Into It”, which the band had played the prior night on Tonight Show. But after “Talk” and the similarly cool “Inside Out” from prior record They Want My Soul (QRO review), Spoon shifted into some earlier material, starting with classic “I Turn My Camera On” while the photographers were still in the pit for the first three songs. One can draw a line of cool from earlier indie-hits like “Camera” and the following “The Beast and Dragon, Adored” to Spoon’s newer, more wide-appeal pieces.
There were some self-indulgent moments; mostly extended instrumental jams after some songs (including one dubbed “Via Kanella”) that were a bit much. But they were able to finally pull off “The Underdog” without horns. The stand-out single from 2007’s Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga (QRO review), it’s an amazing song with horns, perhaps the band’s best (or at least easiest to love), but the group has struggled to do it justice without a horn section. Once again, the second keyboard took up the horn part, but this time had the life that so often is lost when electronics replace analog instruments (including the keyboardist jumping on his keyboard, above the actual keys, turning around and playing them backwards during the performance). It was part of a wonderful into-the-encore-break portion that included Ga’s “Don’t Make Me a Target” just before, “Black Like Me” into the encore, and a great segue from “Underdog” straight into Gimme Fiction’s “Got Nuffin” (where the keyboardist did return to his regular position).
For the encore, Daniel came out to play a song solo, a sweetly intimate moment with “I Summon You”, followed by, “Someone requested this song,” though he wasn’t sure who, deep A Series of Sneaks cut “Metal Detektor”. The evening closed with Hot Thoughts’ title track, a wise ‘hold until late’ choice from the new album, and They Want’s “Rent I Pay” for a glorious finish.
Spoon do it all again tonight, and this show will be streamed live. Way better than Terminal 5, for this cool-for-all act.