Phoenix rising

I went to see Phoenix this week for the third time. I came away with a huge smile on my face, for the third time, and began to wonder if they could be one of the best live acts I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen a few.

Of course, it’s an impossible call to make, but these little Frenchies and their superstar Swedish drummer get me every time, not only with the music but also the performance. They don’t do much, though. It’s weird. They just kind of stand and play, but they do so in such a way that they mesmerise you and Thomas Hedlund, the drummer, has such great grooves you can’t help but get swept up and taken on a wonderfully fun ride.

The Enmore Theatre in Sydney was a bit different to the last time I saw Phoenix in town – in a tiny club called The Factory. In terms of experience, that was perhaps better because of the intimacy, but the Enmore show was brilliant all the same.

They opened with a rousing rendition of Lisztomania, from the latest record Wolgang Amadeus Phoenix. The closer was also off the new album, the pumping 1901. In between, we were treated not only to more new stuff, but also to the staples of Phoenix fans the world over – Run Run Run, If I Ever Feel Better, Napoleon Says, Everything Is Everything (acoustically), Too Young, and an absolutely rocking run of Funky Squaredance.

Thomas Mars was his usual enigmatic self, plopping himself into the crowd as he always does, although waiting for the encore this time to feel the crowd. Laurent Brancowitz and Christian Mazzalai played guitar as if possessed, and Deck D’Arcy was metronomic on bass.

The keyboard player and drummer are strangely not recognised as “official” members of the band, which is weird since Hedlund in particular really drives the music, and is a riot to watch. But he’s in about 70 bands, including the wonderful Perishers if you want to check them out, so I guess he’s doing OK.

Anyway, not much more to say, really, other than if you get the chance to see Phoenix live, don’t miss it. As live music experiences go, it’s up there with the best of them.

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