I gave The Walkmen’s new record You & Me a good 30 spins before writing my recent story for NY Press in which I boldly called it the "Year’s Best Album." The record has been in such heavy rotation on my iTunes that I’ve been listening to it more than once a day on average. It’s very rare that an album can be devoted such attention, especially with so much great music coming from publicists every day, but it’s really just that good. (If you don’t believe me, just ask Pitchfork.)
Last night’s show at Bowery Ballroom (the band’s 2nd of 2 sold out nights) was my first chance to hear the new songs live, aside from watching their Good Day New York performance on Monday morning. On stage, The Walkmen always seem to find a way to bring an extra something to their songs, and it was no different with the new tunes from the album released earlier in the day.
Opening their set with "New Year," singer Hamilton Leitheuser crooned along with lone accompaniment by guitarist Paul Maroon. The song set the chill mood for the rest of the night, with the other three members sitting back before joining the band on "On The Water." After a solid start, the band really hit their stride with "In The New Year." As he’s been known to do, Leitheuser brought his vocals to that next level and continued to do so for the rest of the night. The set initially focused on You & Me, but the band gave longtime fans a real treat by playing a block of songs off their debut Everyone Who Pretended To Like Me Is Gone. Walter Martin’s keyboard playing sounded particular wonderful on these songs, and "Rue the Day" may have been the highlight of the whole night (though no song got the crowd more excited than "The Rat").
From the sublime "Long Time Ahead of Us" to the accelerated rock of "Thinking of a Dream I Had, The Walkmen keep proving to be even better live than on record.
Photos by Jonny Leather