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Midlake Attacks The Bowery Ballroom with Guitars

April 8th, 2010

Midlake – The Bowery Ballroom – April 7, 2010

Midlake - The Bowery Ballroom - April 7, 2010
When you get immersed in a good book, there is a wonderful transporting effect, where everything around you kind of melts away and your focus is entirely on the world of the story. When Midlake took the stage Wednesday night at The Bowery Ballroom, the same effect took place. They eased slowly and deliberately into “Winter Dies,” the highlight track of their newest release, The Courage of Others, and as the song took form, the anticipatory din of the crowd dissipated and we all became immersed in the absorbing novel of Midlake.

Last time the gents from Denton, Texas, played The Bowery, a few years ago, the stage was crowded with probably a half dozen keyboards. This time around the focus was on guitars, four of them, to be exact. It’s not often you see a quartet of six-strings at once, but Midlake worked them expertly, each note in complete resonance. It was four-part harmony on guitars. The Courage of Others works best as a headphones album with subtle flourishes and dense composition. Onstage, the band weaved the guitars around flutes and keys with bass and drums providing the building narrative to ensure that the live versions were equal to the task. The sound in The Bowery was crystal clear from the start and the band was dialed in from the first note.

Many of the songs had winter as a theme, and the mood reflected such beautiful bleakness. But, working through much of the new album, Midlake found plenty of moments to build on, explore and explode. A couple of passages, including the album’s title track, featured two flutes providing the backdrop for fiery, extended guitar solos. The band also blended material from The Trials of Van Occupanther into the set nicely. These songs are now toddlers, out in the world for a few years, giving many “my how you’ve grown!” moments with gnarly new directions, extended introductions and four-guitar goodness. A long instrumental prelude to “Roscoe” was a midset highlight that set the tone for a high-energy, perfectly executed second half of the show that ended like all good books do—with everyone wanting more. Luckily, Midlake returns to The Bowery Ballroom tonight. (This show is sold out). —A. Stein

Photos courtesy of Sean O’Kane | seanokanephoto.com