Mew (Early Show)
The Danish experimental Duo Mew, hit the stage at the newly renovated Venue on December 11th. CJSF volunteer David Prowse was able to rekindle his nostalgic feelings towards the band at their latest show in Vancouver, this is what he says...
Back in the summer, I was lucky enough to get a chance to see Mew perform at the Pitchfork Music Festival. Not only did I think it was the best performance of the entire festival, it was my favorite live performance I saw all year. So when I found out that I had the opportunity to see such an impressive, powerful live band play a full set here in Vancouver, I was ecstatic. I had very high expectations but those expectations were met, as Mew provided another stunning set, playing their songs beautifully and perfectly down to every last detail.
I arrived at Venue just after the local opener Macchu Piccu had finished their set. It was my first time at Venue since their renovations and I must say it definitely feels more like a real spot for live music now. The bar that awkwardly sat right in the middle of the room has been removed (thank God!) and the sound system has undergone a definite upgrade. Sure, the beer’s still too expensive for my liking, but other than that it is certainly a step up from what it was like a year ago.
Mew’s set started with “Introducing the Palace Players, ” from their newest album “No More Stories.” Beginning with the guitarist playing the opening riff by himself on stage. The rest of the Danish five piece walked on stage individually, building up their sound piece by piece. As soon as the full band began performing together as one unit, I was hypnotized by their performance yet again. Since they were playing their own show they got to play much longer, with a 17 song, set that lasted nearly two hours. They drew heavily from their summer release “No More Stories.” with about half of the songs coming from that album. But because they had so much time they were able to play a lot of material off of my favorite album “And the Glass Handed Kites” as well as delving even further back in their extensive catalogue. The lush keyboards combined with angular guitar and one of the most unique and tightest rhythm sections in music. When you listen to Mew, the thing that is really awe-inspiring is their vocalist Jonas Bjerre. His high-pitched falsetto rises above the music and gives it an emotional depth and fragile beauty that makes their performances a near religious experience. It’s hard to believe that he can hit all of his notes live, but he is honestly pitch perfect.
Another infamous piece of Mew’s stage show is an elaborate lighting and projection set up. A series of simple but very cool neon lights behind them would alternate between different colors as they performed. In addition to this they had images and animated videos projected onto a huge white screen behind them. Unfortunately I think this effort to give people more stuff to look at backfired for the band. The images and animations they had ranged from simply distracting to downright frightening. Being a fan of the band and of the precision and beauty of their music, I would have been much more content to just get to watch them play, rather than to have to watch a movie with them as the soundtrack.
But even freaky animations of psychotic monkeys and zombie like baby dolls (seriously!) couldn’t detract from what wonderful, hauntingly gorgeous songs they performed that night. The four-song encore ended with the absolutely breathtaking Louise Louisa. In a similar fashion to the beginning of their set, the band members left the stage one by one, leaving Jonas Bjerre alone to sing the last lines “Stay with me, don’t want to be alone”. It was the perfect ending to an amazing performance.