Camera Obscura Charm Music Hall of Williamsburg

July 17th, 2014

Camera Obscura – Music Hall of Williamsburg – July 16, 2014

Camera Obscura – Music Hall of Williamsburg – July 16, 2014
There’s something to say about bands that have stuck together for nearly two decades, as have the Scottish troupe Camera Obscura. Helmed by Tracyanne Campbell and her sweet vocals, the band released their fifth studio album, Desire Lines, last summer while touring in support of She & Him. Obvious comparisons to countrymen Belle and Sebastian are inevitable, especially when that band’s frontman, Stuart Murdoch, produced Obscura’s first LP. From album to album these Glaswegians have found the perfect balance of indie-pop melodies and bittersweet lyrics. Bringing their blend of heartbreak masked behind ’60s-influenced sensibilities, Camera Obscura charmed a sold-out crowd last night at Music Hall of Williamsburg.

Performing before a backdrop of their previous album cover, the Scots opened the show with “Break It to You Gently,” from Desire Lines. Much of the set was comprised largely from that album and their 2009 effort, My Maudlin Career. In her infectious Scottish brogue, Campbell exclaimed, “Hellllo, how’s it going? What a beautiful evening! Exciting!” And then the rotating disco ball sparkled as they broke into the rollicking “Let’s Get Out of This Country” before the horn-heavy “Honey in the Sun” drew cheers for more trumpet upon its conclusion. Fan-favorite “French Navy” elicited a sing-along from the audience: “I was criticized for letting you break my heart/ Why would I stand for disappointed looks?/ I’m fully grown, but I’m on tenterhooks/ Ooh with the looks, on tenterhooks/ Ooh with the looks, the looks, the looks.”

Handclaps introduced “If Looks Could Kill” just before a pair of older tracks, “Lloyd, I’m Ready to Be Heartbroken” and “My Maudlin Career,” closed the set. But not wanting to leave their admirers brokenhearted, Camera Obscura returned to the stage to encore with “Come Back Margaret,” “Books Written for Girls” and “Razzle Dazzle Rose.” The “midweek New Yorkers” who made the evening feel like a Saturday night enamored the frontwoman, and those same New Yorkers were equally enamored with Campbell and her band. —Sharlene Chiu

Photos courtesy of Mike Benigno |