The New Pornographers at the Gothic Theatre in Englewood, CO on 04/30/23 – Show Review

Singer Neko Case acknowledged, “It’s been around thirty-years that we have been coming around here.” That’s when the singer joked, “It’s hard to believe because I still look like a baby.” The power pop band from Vancouver, Canada is comprised of a group of accomplished musicians. Despite their own successful solo careers, the band members are back on tour supporting their ninth studio album Continue as a Guest.

It was believed the band’s name was taken from a quote from televangelist Jimmy Swaggart who preached, “Rock and Roll is the new pornography.” It was such a better narrative than their actual namesake that band leader A.C. Newman let it stand as the band’s origin story for years.

The New Pornographers posted a few signs that pictures were not allowed. I didn’t notice until security taped me on the shoulder to put my camera away. It’s always a different vibe when screens don’t illuminate the crowd. More smiles and dancing are usually the result.

The band’s sound is striking with Neko Case’s authoritative voice, A.C. Newman clever phrasing, Joe Seiders’ powerful drumming, Kathryn Calder’s joyful harmonies and keyboards, John Collins’ masterful bass playing, Todd Fancey’s guitar wizardly, and Adam Schatz’s unbelievable multitasking between keyboards and saxophone. Schatz was the only one introduced to the audience that night. I’m assuming it’s because he is not an official member (Schatz is listed as a friend of the band on their social media). I saw Schatz perform with Japanese Breakfast in 2021 where he was equally impressive.

Case with her flowing raven hair and Newman with his short gray beard took center stage in front of two music stands making it clear that this was not a typical rock show. The band started with the song Marie and the Undersea featuring Case on lead vocals. Her mesmerizing classical sounding voice got the attention of everyone in the theatre.  

Newman assigned the crowd their role during Testament To Youth In Verse. After Newman sang, “The bell rings,” the audience repeated, “No, no, no, no, no, no.” It’s the most joyous song I know about refraining from sex.

The Gothic Theatre Crowd
The Crowd before security informed me about the no photograph policy

The New Pornographers have been revisiting the material off their album Electric Version to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of its release. The tune The Laws Have Changed combined Case’s mesmerizing voice and Newman’s falsetto beautifully. Between songs, someone in the audience shouted, “You’re f*cking great.” Another voice in the crowd replied, “You play really nice.” Newman retorted, “See you in church.” `

During the encore, the band played the title track from Continue as a Guest. Newman describes the story of an anonymous participant of social media singing, “I don’t even need a room, just want the view, that’s it.” While Case reinforced the narrative with the chorus, “I’ll find a place out on the plains/With some space to fall apart/With a long fade out/Continue as a guest, yeah, continue as Guest.” During the entire exchange, Schatz minimalist haunting saxophone playing was spotlighted. The show ended with the band defining song The Bleeding Heart Show. It’s about a relationship ending and concluding with the band all singing happily, “Hey-la, hey-la, hey-la, hey-la.”

See you at the next show. I’ll be the one wondering who in the band is really an official member or just continuing as a guest.

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