Camera Obscura with Portastatic at Neumo’s

12 February 2007

Camera ObscuraCamera Obscura came round for the second time promoting Let’s Get out of this Country. A very smart idea given all the accolades that record got on last year’s best-of lists. Neumo‘s was really full, if not sold out, or maybe it just felt a little more crowded because the Bad Juju Lounge is closed for renovations, causing everyone to be in the main space. Tracyanne Campbell is an excellent front person for the band, she has this dour look most of the time, but when she smiles it lights up the room. And she seemed to smile a lot last night, telling stories about how much they hate the B-side Alaska and calling their song Houseboat, Shitboat.
They sounded great last night. For me, Ken McKeeve’s guitar was as much a star as Traceyann, with its sublime, warm ringing tones á la Max Eider. This band is always accused of being so heavily influenced by Belle and Sebastian, but their debut album owes just as much to Max and the Jazz Butcher as it does to Stuart Murdoch‘s band. Anyway, we did get to hear a few jems from Biggest Bluest Hi-fi, like Eighties Fan and the afore mentioned Houseboat (though minus John Henderson’s vocal, KcKeeve sang lead).

The set started off a bit slow, only because they played some of their slower ones for the first four or five songs . I was beginning to get a bit sleepy, and just about then is when they got things going. Back to back to back came Lloyd, I’m Ready to be Heartbroken (one of the singles of last year) , Let’s get out of this Country, and they got everyone clapping with the Mo-town infused If Looks Could Kill and I Need All the Friends I Can Get. By this time Camera Obscura had put a smile on everyone’s face and had indie rock geeks like myself, bouncing around and yelling for more. They closed with a crescendoing version of Razzle Dazzle Rose that was simply the icing on the Camera Obscura cake!

Portastic opened the show with a much more stripped down version of themselves. Mac was accompanied by violinist Margaret White, quite a switch from the last time they were here in their full band Superchunkesque mode. They opened with a cover of the Go-Betweens Bye-Bye Pride, which was quite nice and made me miss Grant McClennan. Their set played songs from the new record Be Still Please, but also reached back to The Nature of Sap and Slow Note from a sinking Ship. They didn’t play I’m In Love (with Arthur Dove), but I wasn’t too surprised given the nature of the band this time around. They closed with Bright Ideas I Wanna Know Girls. So it was a set sandwiched between two really great songs.

Photo from Thalianation over at flickr.

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