Posted in music | pictures on May 4, 2009

photos by Natasha Ryan, words by Andrew Frisicano

Dark Was the Night

Dark Was the Night live finally happened Sunday, May 3rd at Radio City. Right before showtime, there were still tickets available, but the auditorium seemed fairly full as the Dirty Projectors set began. The band sounded great with its newly fleshed out six-piece lineup (though I didn't catch the titles of the first Bitte Orca song). The reverb of the room was almost a special guest of its own and a welcome addition throughout the night. On new single "Stillness Is the Move" singer Amber Coffman really let loose with the dance moves and the added vocal acrobatics the song deserves. David Byrne joined the band on their Dark Was the Night collaborations -- the not-on-the-comp "Ambulance Man" and album opener "Knotty Pine."

Red Hot executive director John Carlin (Red Hot being the AIDS advocacy group that put out Dark Was the Night along with many other benefit comps) came out and said a few words about the performers before My Brightest Diamond/Shara Worden burst into her cover of Nina Simone's "Feeling Good." Worden was backed by Thomas Bartlett (Doveman) on keys, members of the National including the two Dessners brothers (who were obvious fixtures through the night), drummer Bryan Devendorf, plus horns and strings. Worden's massive voice filled the hall, but sadly took the lead for only one song.

The rest of The National guys came on stage for Boxer song "Slow Show," followed by new song "England." Bon Iver's Justin Vernon and band were on stage for backups, and for The National's Dark Was the Night contribution, "So Far Around the Bend," Vernon even picked up a guitar and took a solo. The band closed with another new song, which singer Matt Berninger mumbled the title of a few times (anyone catch it?).

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For the next set, TV on the Radio's Dave Sitek took the stage in a sharp looking suit and performed one track, his DwtN Troggs cover "With a Girl Like You." Here it was backed by a fuzzed out bass, horns, keys, and a collection of the night's performers on handclaps and tambourines (Dirty Projectors, Dessners, others).

As John Carlin announced earlier, the first half of the show was to close with David Byrne's three Red Hot compilation contributions. Led by five hand percussionists, Byrne opened with Cole Porter's "Don't Fence Me In." Second, he played "Dreamworld: Marco De Canavesems" with Justin Vernon sitting in on vocals for Brazilian singer Caetano Veloso (who originally collaborated with Bryne on the track). The tune's hyped up bossa nova, with the Dessners on guitars, was one of the night's many highlights. Finally, Byrne sang with Feist (who subbed for the original's Marisa Monte) on the Antonio Carlos Jobim song "Waters of March" ("Aguas de Março"). Even with Byrne starring down at the lyric prompt for nearly the whole song, the jumping melody of that tune was an amazing end to the first set.

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Dark Was the Night

The second half started with Bon Iver, who opened with their winding Dark Was the Night tune "Brackett, WI" -- with keys again by Bartlett. Bon Iver's "Blood Bank" was next, followed by "Big Red Machine," which Matt from the National sang on. Mere feet apart, the difference couldn't have been starker between Matt Berninger's bay-dredging baritone and Vernon's wispy, winged voice. Bon Iver closed with the impeccable "Flume," accompanied on harmonies by My Brightest Diamond and horns.

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Feist performed with just her voice and a guitar for her entire set -- one of the most surprising of the night in that it didn't include any album material. She opened with folk song "The Wagoner's Lad," appropriate especially because of the short clip that screened before her set. Throughout the night, Radio City's video screens showed Red Hot videos from the past (Debbie Harry and Iggy Pop doing Cole Porter's "Well, Did You Evah!" was one). The video before Feist, dubbed "No Alternative Girls," was one of the best, as it followed an early '90s Kim Gordon as she interviewed other women rockers about sexuality in their music. "Wagoner's" lyrics -- "Oh hard is the fortune of all womankind/They're always controlled, they're always confined" -- attempted a segue from those provocateurs (Bikini Kill, Luscious Jackson) to Leslie Feist through folk music. She then covered Little Wings' "Look At What the Light Did Now," duetted with Justin Vernon on "Train Song" (with the rest of Bon Iver on backups, plus what looked like a bass clarinet), and closed with a blues rock cover of Bob Dylan's "Someday Baby." Her riffs on the Modern Times track wouldn't have been out of place on a hard-rock track...maybe a sign of Feist to come.

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Finally, as John Carlin promised, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings were closing the show because no one could really follow them. I think that assertion was right -- their onstage power, especially in that massive room, was something no one all night had come close to. From opener "Not Gonna Cry" to the next song's "false start" into "When I Come Home" the band sounded crisp and totally at home. Sharon Jones mentioned that May 3rd is James Brown's birthday (he would have been 76) and took the opportunity to bust out some signature Brown moves including the Boogaloo, the Camel Walk, and the Tighten Up.

For the encore, all of the acts, including some from the crowd like St Vincent (and I'm sure a few others), got on stage to perform a rendition of the standard "This Land is Your Land" in honor of Pete Seeger...until Sharon Jones came back to funk it up.

No Sufjan, no Grizzly Bear, no Blonde Redhead, no David Byrne + Sharon Jones, and none of the other countless collaborations that could've happened. But like the album, Dark Was the Night live turned out to be a perfectly restrained, artful collection -- a night and album that capture some of the best of what popular music has to offer.

The rest of the photos and the set list below...

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Dark Was The Night @ Radio City Music Hall 5/3/09 - Setlist (started by Happy Genius Heroes)
1. Dirty Projectors - (two new album songs?)
2. Dirty Projectors - "Stillness Is the Move"
3. Dirty Projectors - "Ambulance Man" w/ David Byrne
4. Dirty Projectors - "Knotty Pine" w/ David Byrne
5. My Brightest Diamond - "Feeling Good"
6. The National - "Slow Show"
7. The National - "England"
8. The National - "So Far Around The Bend"
9. The National - "Vanderlaw(?) Crybaby" w/ My Brightest Diamond
10. Dave Sitek - "With A Girl Like You"
11. David Byrne - "Don't Fence Me In"
12. David Byrne - "Dreamworld: Marco de Canavezes" w/ Justin Vernon
13. David Byrne - "Waters Of March" w/ Leslie Feist
14. Bon Iver - "Brackett, WI"
15. Bon Iver - "Blood Bank"
16. Bon Iver - "Big Red Machine" w/ Matt Berninger
17. Bon Iver - "Flume" w/ My Brightest Diamond
18. Feist - "The Wagoner's Lad"
19. Feist - "Look At What the Light Did Now"
20. Feist - "Train Song" w/ Justin Vernon
21. Feist - "Someday Baby"
22. Sharon Jones - "Not Gonna Cry"
23. Sharon Jones - "When I Come Home"
24. Sharon Jones - "Inspiration Information"
25. Sharon Jones - "100 Days, 100 Nights"
Encore
All - "This Land Is Our Land"

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Comments (55)

amazing show

Posted by Anonymous | May 4, 2009 2:09 PM

I really hope some good recordings of this come out. Specifically Big Red Machine...

Posted by BTW | May 4, 2009 2:19 PM

first song was "useful chamber" followed by "stillness..."

Posted by Anonymous | May 4, 2009 2:21 PM

DWTN liner notes say big red machine was written by aaron and justin. had no idea bon iver and national were so close.

Posted by Anonymous | May 4, 2009 2:27 PM

The new National song was "Vanderlylle Cry Baby"

Posted by TheVanguard | May 4, 2009 2:40 PM

Yes, the DP's "songs" is just one songs. Their one song is just deeper and way more complicated than most full albums.

Posted by Anonymous | May 4, 2009 2:43 PM

yeah, enuf of shit about national. f them. good job getting some people to make good music for an album with your name on it. at least you have good taste and cool friends. now stop making boring unoriginal music thanks.

DIRTY PROJECTORS! cannot wait until friday!

Posted by Anonymous | May 4, 2009 3:00 PM

@ BTW (and everyone else)....just finished uploading "Big Red Machine" from last night. Enjoy!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WP-aA7Pu3Nw&feature=channel_page

Posted by tremags | May 4, 2009 3:17 PM

wow. that's a pretty fucked up thing to say 3:35.

The National are an incredible band.

Posted by Anonymous | May 4, 2009 3:38 PM

Wow good work tremags!!!! That was easily the highlight of last night and the quality of this is better than expected. Would it be too greedy to hope for an audio rip???

Posted by BTW | May 4, 2009 3:48 PM

Let's take a moment to admire the sheer intelligence and penetrating insights of the anti-The National commentators.

Posted by Anonymous | May 4, 2009 3:51 PM

great new songs

Posted by Anonymous | May 4, 2009 3:57 PM

national dudes used to work for red hot sister design company funny garbage...thats how they got connected and asked to produce this record for the charity. says in the cd liner notes.

Posted by Anonymous | May 4, 2009 4:09 PM

3:35 thats taking it to a new level now. you go to a charity event to benefit AIDS and then come home and try to spread rumors about the organizers. grow up.

this show was beautiful. other than the sometimes long transitions it was my favorite show this year so far. bon iver is unbelievable. and brightest diamond should do a covers record.

Posted by Anonymous | May 4, 2009 4:24 PM

Yeah, the "two new album songs" that Dirty Projectors did was just one, Useful Chamber from the new album. It's a really good song; so is Stillness Is The Move, but I think Useful Chamber sounded better last night.

Posted by hornblower | May 4, 2009 4:32 PM

Dark was the MEH.

Posted by Anonymous | May 4, 2009 4:36 PM

Anybody else notice Byrne's saddle shoes? Awesome

Posted by Anonymous | May 4, 2009 4:38 PM

oh come on. The venue was understandably half-empty. It wasn't too exciting unless you were a drooling, die-hard fan of one of these bands. And we all love Sharon Jones, but gimme a break. Their version of "This Land" wasn't an amazing feat. It's not hard to sound refreshing and charismatic after three hours of blah. White people love them some wild and crazy ethnic types to liven up their parties.

Posted by Anonymous | May 4, 2009 4:44 PM

It was packed. Sold out or very close to it.

Posted by Anonymous | May 4, 2009 5:19 PM

I dont care what they say, Dirty Projectors were just plain terrible. I respect the attempt to integrate many different styles into one tune, but it just sounded forced and choppy

Posted by Anonymous | May 4, 2009 5:32 PM

"I dont care what they say, Dirty Projectors were just plain terrible. I respect the attempt to integrate many different styles into one tune, but it just sounded forced and choppy"

YOU = NUTS

Posted by Anonymous | May 4, 2009 5:42 PM

Sharon Jones was actually the lowlight for me. After seeing so much beautiful, original, risk taking sets all night her James Brown imitation act got old quick. Dap Kings sounded great tho...

Posted by BTW | May 4, 2009 5:50 PM

I agree. The Dirty Projectors sucked. And the National needed some work. But Sharon rocked it!

Posted by Anonymous | May 4, 2009 6:15 PM

The people who left before Sharon Jones went = obvious racists.

Posted by Anonymous | May 4, 2009 6:44 PM

Dark was the MEH.
^^
STOP SAYING THAT FUCKING WORD. YOU ARE NOT COOL CAUSE YOU USE THAT WORD...

Posted by Anonymous | May 4, 2009 7:46 PM

I thought it felt like an award show. the crowd was too docile. a bit boring.

Posted by JO | May 4, 2009 9:21 PM

good photos (though a few too many) well written as well. the show was great although i wish more of the performers would have gotten down with sharon jones at the end. feist could have held her own.

people don't dance no more. all they do is this...

Posted by Anonymous | May 4, 2009 11:53 PM

"Sharon Jones was actually the lowlight for me. "

Go to a full Sharon Jones show. Maybe your mind will be changed

Posted by Anonymous | May 5, 2009 1:46 AM

Does somebody know when and where the show is going to be?

Posted by Maxodo | June 17, 2009 4:33 AM

Does anybody remember the video interludes? What was the one with The Breeders and Bikini Kill and Tonya Donnelly?

Posted by Anonymous | July 5, 2009 1:28 PM

Worden was backed by Thomas Bartlett (Doveman) on keys, members of the National including the two Dessners brothers (who were obvious fixtures through the night), drummer Bryan Devendorf, plus horns and strings. Worden's massive voice filled the hall, but sadly took the lead for only one song.

Posted by Register Domains | September 9, 2009 3:37 AM

I think national dudes used to work for red hot sister design company funny garbage...thats how they got connected and asked to produce this record for the charity.


Thanks and Regards

Posted by Anonymous | September 17, 2009 3:39 AM

WOW the video before Feist, dubbed "No Alternative Girls," was one of the best, as it followed an early '90s Kim Gordon as she interviewed other women rockers about sexuality in their music. "Wagoner's" lyrics -- "Oh hard is the fortune of all womankind/They're always controlled, they're always confined" -- attempted a segue from those provocateurs (Bikini Kill, Luscious Jackson) to Leslie Feist through folk music.

Posted by Crush the Castle | September 17, 2009 3:41 AM

Hey thanks I like this post It's amazing1

Posted by acarad | October 10, 2009 4:07 PM

risk taking sets all night her James Brown imitation act got old quick.

Posted by 数据采集 | November 5, 2009 9:07 PM

I am happy to find many useful information in the post, writing sequence is awesome, I always look for quality content, thanks for sharing.

Posted by Versace Eyeglasses | November 23, 2009 5:55 PM

I no longer need glasses.

Posted by laser_eye_surgery | November 23, 2009 6:14 PM

Byrne sang with Feist (who subbed for the original's Marisa Monte) on the Antonio Carlos Jobim song "Waters of March".
bull 100

Posted by miklesera | November 29, 2009 4:11 AM

wonderful night
i wish i could be there

Posted by nike air max 90 | December 3, 2009 10:56 AM

Hey thanks I like this post It's amazing1

Posted by www.aricept.com | December 6, 2009 6:17 AM

It was packed. Sold out or very close to it.

Posted by buy biagra | December 6, 2009 6:37 AM

Best singing players Rednex always best

Posted by Konferensanläggning | December 11, 2009 10:03 AM

i wish more of the performers would have gotten down with sharon jones at the end.

Posted by roofing | December 14, 2009 12:53 AM

i wish more of the performers would have gotten down with sharon jones at the end.

Posted by bathroom | December 14, 2009 12:55 AM

have gotten down with sharon jones at the end.

Posted by plumbers | December 14, 2009 12:57 AM

have gotten down with sharon jones at the end.

Posted by plastic surgery | December 14, 2009 12:58 AM

Dark was the night was just ok.

Posted by Fitness ebook review | January 22, 2010 1:09 AM

hey what up

Posted by Anonymous | February 8, 2010 4:27 PM

How can you not love the dirty projectors?

Posted by data recovery | March 29, 2010 11:51 AM

Looks like a great concert, I totally love the photos!

Posted by Online Perfume | August 8, 2010 10:19 PM

woowwww … Many thanks.. I am going to be dad and I need to simplify my work

Posted by arkadiy | August 9, 2010 2:55 AM

Im a big fan of music.That's why thank you for sharing this blog

Posted by Mark Lewis | September 25, 2010 7:58 PM

When it is after work, it becomes tired somehow, and feelings said that it will get on do not boil, and, after all, it in good heart though it is rider ‥

Posted by ツーショット | November 6, 2010 12:54 AM

It was a very interesting blog. I am allowed to see it variously and it becomes study very much. Please update and hold out in the future. It assists.

Posted by sefre | November 6, 2010 12:55 AM

It is the highest performance show. It is moving.

Posted by telh | November 6, 2010 12:57 AM

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