Just when it seemed that The Shins were done, James Mercer surprised everyone by announcing the band’s heavily anticipated fourth album, ‘Port of Morrow’. Despite Mercer being the only original member still in the band, the album was a fantastic effort that received glowingly positive critical reception. On April 30th, the band came to New York’s Terminal 5 for the second of three sold out shows at the 3,000 capacity venue.
Opening the show was Brooklyn based Chairlift – consisting of singer Caroline Polachek and bassist Patrick Wimberly. During their live performances, the duo receives help from additional members including a drummer, guitarist and keyboardist. Their 30 minute long set included numerous cuts from their newest album ‘Something’ including the lead single ‘Amanaemonesia’. However, the real highlight of their set for the crowd who seemed unfamiliar with the band was when they played their biggest hit ‘Bruises’. There was a moment where the entire crowd seemed to recall that they in fact were familiar with this song (from an iPod commercial back in 2008) and they finally gave back the energy and dancing that such a fantastic opener deserved.
When Mercer and co took to the stage, the audience screamed until the first notes of the music began. Throughout the course of The Shins’ hour and forty-five minute set, they expertly mixed up material from their entire catalogue. ‘Simple Song’, arguably the bands biggest single ever, came as the second song of the set – surprisingly early in fact. While many rookie bands typically save their biggest and newer singles for last in the set, it is truly a testament of The Shins’ confidence and devoted fan base that they were able to save older songs for the close of the night.
I must confess that before the show started I was nervous as to how the new members of the band would hold up to the legacy set before their arrival; however these fears were alleviated as soon as the band started playing. Drummer Joe Plummer, bassist Yuuki Matthews, guitarist Jessica Dobson, and keyboardist Richard Swift all more than held their own and faithfully recreated all of the older material as well as formed so new pieces during extended jams led by Mercer. Dobson was particularly impressive, shredding some of the most famous indie rock riffs of the past decade without so much as breaking a sweat.
Mercer is known for being a man of few words, and this night was no different. There was nearly no interaction with the crowd, however it’s to count this as a negative of such an amazing night. Before playing the last song of the night, ‘One by One All Day’, he formally introduced his new band and thanked the crowd remarking that it was a “great night”. After a lengthy encore break, he returned to play a song solo for the crowd, which then led into a gorgeous performance of the title track off ‘Port of Morrow’. A particularly raucous and extended version of ‘Sleeping Lessons’ followed to close out the night, which for many of the devoted audience, was merely the second of three nights to be spent in Mercer’s musical company.
All photos courtesy of Michel Dussack