The New Pornographers @ WISE Hall -- 12/11/14

To promote Google Play Music, Google Canada hosted a series of Home for the Holiday shows around the country this month. Last week Toronto got City & Colour, next week Montreal gets Coeur de Pirate, and last night Vancouver got their very own New Pornographers. The "secret" intimate show took place at Wise Hall, quite the change of scene from the last few times I saw them; at a sold out Commodore and in front of thousands of people in Stanley Park.

(And not to sound like a pitchman, but I've always been an Android guy and have been using Google Play -- not the streaming service, but the app itself -- on my phone since before it was available in Canada. It's pretty great.)

But on to the show. I had caught The New Pornographers at the start of their tour, a few months back, and I was actually a little disappointed by it, so I was eager to see them again, especially in a venue so intimate. It was the first time the Vancouver group had ever played the Wise Hall, and the venue sounded great. They started off with all seven members present -- minus Neko Case -- with the title track to the new album Brill Bruisers and into one of my favourites, the Bejar-fronted "Myriad Harbour". From there the set ran the gamut from the old, going back to their first album for the eponymous "Mass Romantic" to the the frantic "War on the East Coast", and all the hits in between.

Dan was on and off stage, there when he was needed, in a trench coat and often with a glass of red wine in hand, in a way that only Dan Bejar can pull off. And Carl Newman was in fine form joking between songs, thanking their Google sponsors (then being shocked that no one could name the inventor of Google) and ringing in every holiday until the end of the year, since it was their last show of 2014.

Other highlights included the softer "A Drug Deal of the Heart", "Testament To Youth in Verse" with its chorus of nos at the end, and a couple songs that really showed off Kathryn Calder's powerful vocals, "The Laws Have Changed" and "Born With A Sound".
After a good hour, they came to a close with one of my absolute favourites -- not just of New Pornos -- "The Bleeding Heart Show", a perfect song, building to a chest-busting ending of intertwined vocals and powerful drums. Though it may have been the only song of the set where their new drummer, Joe Seiders, wasn't quite up to par with Kurt Dahle. But that's not a knock on Joe, he just had some big shoes to fill.
And of course, they were back out for one more, Carl jokingly insisting that the word "encore" came from the Latin for "more", not from the French, before wrapping the night up by singing us Spanish Techno.

With their previous show this year, I couldn't quite place what was "off" about it. But whatever it was, was gone for this show. Maybe it was because they are wrapping up a tour, having just got home from Europe, but they were on top of their game and put on a strong show in a great, intimate venue. And I hope this is going to turn into an ongoing series from Google Canada.

Brill Bruisers; Myriad Harbour; Moves; Dancehall Domine; War on the East Coast; Use It; All The Old Showstoppers; Jackie, Dressed in Cobras; A Drug Deal of the Heart; The Laws Have Changed; Fantasy Fools; Testament to Youth in Verse; Sweet Talk, Sweet Talk; Backstairs; Silver Jenny Dollar; Champions of Red Wine; Born With A Sound; Mass Romantic; Ballad of a Comeback Kid; The Bleeding Heart Show. 
(encore) Sing Me Spanish Techno.