Julian Casablancas Returns Home

January 15th, 2010

Julian Casablancas – Terminal 5 – January 14, 2010

Julian Casablancas - Terminal 5 - January 14, 2010
Everyone was calling Julian Casablancas by just his first name. Near the ticket window it was “Julian” and upstairs in VIP it was a more familiar “Jules.” Opener Tanlines even referred to him as the vaguely messianic “JC.” Apparently New York City assumed it was on a first name basis with the guy who allegedly saved rock and roll from the Lower East Side in 2001. As if winking at 3,000 people at once, Casablancas opened with “Ludlow St.,” an overly sentimental ode to the street he helped make famous. Of course it was also to say that if we thought we knew him, he most assuredly knew us better.

Casablancas, dressed almost head to foot in black leather came to the stage last, a subtle tip to the significance of his return to the city that bore him. After “Ludlow St.,” he directed the band in the wailing and enormous “River of Brakelights,” a song that few outside the first 20 rows grasped or reacted to appropriately. Following quickly with “11th Dimension,” Casablancas turned Terminal 5 into a sea of jumping heads and bobbing angular haircuts. And during “Out of the Blue,” he whipped around the microphone by its cord before ripping through the last chorus. It was the kind of maneuver that said, “I’ve still got it” and “I never really left.”

Of course this return couldn’t be complete without an unscripted ending. After closing his first encore with “4 Chords of the Apocalypse,” Casablancas slammed the microphone to the stage and reached into the crowd with all the magnanimous effect of a messiah. The crowd pushed toward its hero and he seemed visibly affected by this display. Terminal 5 turned on the music and the crowd was supposed to leave. But no one moved. So Casablancas returned, rather sheepishly, saying, “We really were done.” He then played “Tourist,” as if to indicate that even the messiah feels a little weird when everyone tries to know his name. And the crowd, unabashedly, sang along with their Julian. —Geoff Nelson

Photos courtesy of Gregg Greenwood |