Saturday, April 10, 2010

Midlake @ The Paradise

I can't remember when the last time was that I saw a show at the Paradise Rock Club. In fact, trying to use this blog to determine this proved fruitless, as there isn't a single post about a Paradise show. It was only late 2008 that I began regularly writing up concerts, but nevertheless, it's probably been at least a couple years. This is unfortunate, because the Commonwealth Avenue club is still one of my favorite venues.

It used to be that when a band graduated from Paradise to Avalon status that I was pretty much done with seeing them live. But, Avalon is no more—thankfully—and has been replaced by the House of Blues, a venue that is slightly larger but much better suited for rock shows. Still, I've only been there once since it opened just over a year ago.

Last night was the third time I've seen Midlake in concert, twice of those at the Paradise and all of them excellent shows. The seven-piece from Denton, Texas, led by the vocals of Tim Smith and no less than four guitarists, seems to have a knack for live music that fully captures the magic of their studio output.

Speaking of Smith, it occurred to me during last night's show that he is the only member of Midlake whose name I know, which is somewhat surprising considering they're one of my favorite current bands. I have no problem remembering the names of all the members of Styx from their heyday: Dennis DeYoung, Tommy Shaw, James Young and the Panozzo brothers. Well, I'll admit that I had to look up the first names of the latter siblings—Chuck and John—but you get my point. Knowing the names of band members is pretty much my thing, but somewhere along the way, this ability has faded, or this information has become less important.

Also faded is my ability to stand in one place for three hours without my legs and lower back aching. But, that's another story. Part of the reason this was an issue was the opening act. Previously unknown to me, John Grant was a pleasant surprise in a supporting role. His music beared much resemblance to Midlake's—not surprisingly since they served as backup band for his recent album, Queen of Denmark—except with much lighter lyrical subject matter, as evidenced by song titles such as "Sigourney Weaver," " Chicken Bones," and "Jesus Hates Faggots."

I've already written here that I think Midlake's latest release, The Courage of Others, is nowhere near the masterpiece that The Trials of Van Occupanther was, but the songs from Courage did not disappoint live. That's not to say that hearing "Roscoe," "Bandits," "Van Occupanther," and "Young Brides" from Van Occupanther weren't the highlights of the show, but the band seemed perfectly constructed to perform the newer material. To that point, another highlight was an extended jam during one of the show's closing songs, "Rulers, Ruling All Things."

It's also been quite some time since I've seen two shows in just three days time, but that will be the case this weekend, as I have plans to see Keith Emerson and Greg Lake—two-thirds of the legendary progressive rock trio Emerson, Lake & Palmer—play at the Lynn Auditorium tomorrow night. More on that to come.


  1. You are very wrong about The Courage Of Others. Trials falls off considerably in its final stretch. No masterpiece, but this one is.

  2. Do I need to point out how ridiculous it is to tell someone that their opinion is wrong? No, Anonymous, I'm absolutely right when I say that I think Trials is better than Courage, just as you're correct when you say you think Courage is the masterpiece that Trials isn't. It's all about our personal taste. I appreciate you sharing your opinion, but that's all it is.