Thursday, December 2, 2010

Blonde Redhead in Review (in words only)

Last night I had the pleasure of seeing Blonde Redhead and Ólöf Arnalds at La Zona Rosa. It was Ólöf Arnalds' final night on the tour and she was in good spirits cracking jokes with the crowd in a thick Icelandic accent. She performed solo with acoustic instruments making it difficult to hear her over the din of people chatting and arriving to the show. Those of us who were paying attention were entertained by her delicate, beautiful folk songs interspersed with quips and brief stories. My favorite story was about how she and her friends call finger-picking "omelettes" and they like to have "omelette competitions". She had such a good omelette going that she maintained it through three songs, whose run ended in a Bruce Springsteen cover.

After Ólöf Arnalds, Blonde Redhead took to the stage. There were four members dressed in head-to-toe white with Kazu Makino wearing a helmet/mask that looked like a white porcelain horse head with blonde pigtails coming out of the nose. The lighting was definitely the fifth member of the band. During their entrance and most of the first song the band was lit by a dozen bare light bulbs whose tungsten flickered like 12 little flames scattered across the stage. At the back of the stage were 9 photographer's umbrellas, the silver facing the audience, which worked to light the band at some points while silhouetting them at other points. All in all the lighting served to add another layer of atmosphere to a sound that was already loaded with sonic textures.

The set was peppered with songs from all periods but mostly focused on the latest album, Penny Sparkle as well as lots of tunes from 23. The entire set had a great flow, which culminated with an intense version of the song 23. to close things out. The audience walked out like they had just seen Schindler's List, with looks of deepest awe upon their faces. In short, if you haven't seen Blonde Redhead and they're coming to your town, you should probably get yourself a ticket. Or, if you missed them last night you might want to start beating yourself up now. Sorry.