Thursday, February 26, 2009

Review: Thievery Corporation, 2/25 @ HOB

I don’t even know how to begin to recount my experience last night (February 25) at the Thievery Corporation show at Boston’s House of Blues. Thievery Corporation has been one of my favorite bands since I caught a 30-minute glimpse of them at a music festival a few years ago. The full-bodied, worldly sound that founders Rob Garza and Eric Hilton get from their rotating cast of musicians and singers got me hooked from the first song I heard. My goal since then has been to see the band play live, which I thought would be difficult to accomplish because they don’t go on tour often (they only have eight dates in the US scheduled so far). When I noticed that Thievery Corporation was coming to Boston, I jumped at the opportunity to catch the band in action and check out Boston’s new venue. I knew they would put on a good show but I was not prepared for their ass-kicking, adrenaline boosting, action packed set. Watching Thievery Corporation is like creating a really cool collage: there are so many interchangeable components—horn players, percussionists, singers, rappers, etc.—that create one larger picture. No matter how you fit the pieces together, they still reproduce powerful political statements mixed with incredible dance beats.
There was a general feeling of excitement well before the band appeared; the House of Blues opened less than a week ago, and the brand-new venue contributed to the anticipation. In fact, Thievery Corporation was only the fourth band ever to take the stage. The bouncers were all friendly and seemed excited, not bitter, to be working. And the security was not rude like often they are at Boston venues (*cough* Bill’s Bar *cough*). In the bathroom, they had beauty products, candy and an attendant. I couldn’t believe that during the current economic turmoil they would have such nice amenities.
After checking out the bathroom, I walked out into the huge concert space. The House of Blues was packed and I could feel the crowd stirring as they anxiously awaited Thievery Corporation. I was a little disappointed that they went on almost an hour and a half after the tickets said. However, once they began to play “Sound the Alarm,” the first song off their new album, Radio Retaliation, my spirits immediately lifted. The sound quality at the House of Blues is amazing. All of the instruments sounded crisp and clear; there was no distortion. No matter where you were in the crowd it felt like you were standing in the front row.
As I danced my way backstage I ran into a barefoot bassist who was jumping from foot to foot, nervous to go on stage. I couldn’t believe that someone who has probably played thousands of shows in his life was anxious about playing the House of Blues. As he made his way past me and onto the stage, the band began to play “Mandala,” the second song off Radio Retaliation. I was captivated by the sitar introduction and drawn in even more when the brass instruments filled out the melody. Then, Thievery Corporation brought out an amazing female vocalist to sing hit “Lebanese Blond”—a song many recognized from The Garden State Soundtrack. Her voice sounded so pure and resolute. The crowd, myself included, went absolutely wild. I didn’t remember dancing to Thievery like this the last time I saw them, although that was a brief encounter.
Other notable songs were “Le Femme Parallel” and “Sweet Tides,” both featuring vocalist Lou Lou. These are my favorite tracks from the Radio Retaliation album, so I was super psyched to see them live. Her French singing is sensual and soothing—if only I could've understood what she was saying. Another song that stood out was “The Heart’s a Lonely Hunter.” I love its catchy drum beat and chorus: “Welcome to my Spaceship/ You’re beautiful forever/ She’s right here where you left her/ And the heart’s a lonely hunter.” The band was grooving along with the audience. During “Coming from the Top,” the horns section got to show off their skills simultaneously as dancers awed the crowd. The band let front row fans go on stage and rock out to the beat. The dancing continued until the very last note of “Marching the Hate Machines into the Sun,” when the show ended.
I had finally fulfilled my long-time objective: I saw a full Thievery Corporation set. In addition, I got a chance to meet the band and discover that they are real people underneath this ethereal persona. While their set list choices were predictable, which was to be expected, as this is their Radio Retaliation tour, I really enjoyed the show. It showed off the skills of each member of the band, as well as their ability to sound as a unit. As for the House of Blues, it seems likely that this classy venue that won't hesitate to make its way to the top.

-Lana Tkachenko


Timothy said...

This show was unbelievable!

Mark said...

How come not? they are amazing and their live performances are simply unforgettable! Nothing like them! Definitely! I had the chance to see them at the Kamagra Music Fest 2009.