Spoon’s sleek performance for a capacity audience of more than 1,000 at Lawrence’s Liberty Hall on Sunday showcased a seasoned band in top form.
Established in Austin in 1993, Spoon was at the peak of its powers during the impressive outing. The band is touring support of “They Want My Soul,” its eighth album and its first since 2010. The recording is one of the finest in a career that already includes the minor classics “Gimme Fiction” and “Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga.”
The concert's momentous tone reflected Spoon's durability and the remarkable strength of its new album.
In that regard, Spoon's tour is the indie-rock equivalent of the Rolling Stones' performances in support of its enduring 1978 album "Some Girls." While Spoon lacks the cultural relevancy of the Stones, its catalog is among the most distinguished of any rock band of the last two decades.
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Spoon's ongoing vitality was immediately apparent on the opening selection "Knock Knock Knock." The quintet seamlessly shifted between controlled bursts of noise and a nuanced reading of the composition's formal song structure. For over 90 minutes, Spoon alternated between robust brawniness and elegant finesse.
Front man Britt Daniel's gritty vocals were highlighted on the dreamy R&B of "Inside Out" and the mischievous soul of "Rainy Taxi," new songs that indicate that the members of Spoon are aware of current trends in hip-hop and R&B. An arrangement of "The Underdog," Spoon's best known song, emphasized Rob Pope's bass. The Olathe native and founding member of the Get Up Kids also played an outsized role on the malevolent disco of "Outlier" and the funky "Don't You Evah."
The dissonant blare of EMA's 45-minute opening set made Spoon's authoritative effort seem all the more extraordinary. The dystopian rock of the project led by the South Dakota native Erika M. Anderson incorporates white noise and other sonic detritus associated with the internet. Unlike the veterans in Spoon, the young artist and her band mates have yet to effectively harness rock's extreme dynamics.
Anderson can take hope in Spoon's career trajectory. The band's initial efforts only hinted at the power they'd eventually achieve. While ungainly introductions are not uncommon in popular music, it's exceedingly rare to witness a rock band that's issuing its best work and making its most exciting performances over 20 years into its career.
Knock Knock Knock
Rent I Pay
Don't You Evah
Who Makes Your Money
The Ghost of You Lingers
You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb
Don't Make Me a Target
I Just Don't Understand
I Summon You
I Turn My Camera On
Black Like Me
They Want My Soul
The Beast and Dragon, Adored
Everything Hits at Once
Rhthm & Soul