Posted in music | pictures on June 25, 2009

words and photos by Dominick Mastrangelo

Camera Obscura

The perpetual rain provided a fitting backdrop to the melancholy pop of Glasgow's Camera Obscura at Webster Hall on Wednesday (6/24). The Scottish five-piece were more comfortable in the songs from their new record, My Maudlin Career, since March when they road tested new material at two warmup shows in New York.

Lead singer Tracyanne Campbell's voice was every bit as fragile-sounding as it is on the record always sounding as if she's ready to break into a good cry, especially on Maudlin's slow-moving "James." The band was without bassist Gavin Dunbar who left the tour last week following a death in the family. That resulted in the band cancelling two of their shows.

MTV, not so surprisingly, supplied the head-scratching moment of the night courtesy of a member of the game show Silent Library as he clattered in and knocked over people, and generally disrupted everyone's enjoyment of the show near the stage. Only the restraint of several in the audience kept him from getting pummelled. Campbell even took notice from the stage, shooting a wary eye, mid-song, toward the pushing and shoving going on before her.

Songs like "Let's Get Out Of This Country" and "Hey Lloyd I'm Ready To Be Heartbroken" received plenty of applause at their introduction and for the encore the band opened with a cover of Bruce Springsteen's "Tougher Than The Rest" before the set-closing standard "Razzle Dazzle Rose" and its crescendo building flourish.

Anni Rossi opened the show. More pictures below...

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Comments (26)

Music Snob called this his show of the year!

Posted by Anonymous | June 25, 2009 3:20 PM

I was near the stage on the left-hand side, and I didn't spot the disruption at all. There were the usual camera guys shouldering their way up when the set started, but even they were pretty courteous compared to other shows.

Good show. It was really great to hear "Books Written for Girls". Thanks for the top photo, it catches that cute moment in that song's interlude pretty well.

Crap, forgot where I was. This is Brooklyn Vegan. I meant to say, "I'd hit it. Daft Punk went on immediately afterwards."

Posted by Paul G. | June 25, 2009 3:40 PM

really great set. despite the horrible venue... this was really Camera Obscura's best show yet (and I've seen them a TON of times). The Springsteen cover... the mix of songs... the sound was actually good. They played "Away with Murder" for the first time in NY, which is probably the best song on the new album.

I know these guys are kind of love 'em or hate 'em (especially live). Some people think they are boring... such as Music Douchery. They have an odd stage presence and a goofy sense of humor. If you think they are up there just playing slow, boring sad sack songs... then this really isn't for you.

Personally... I feel like a Camera Obscura is a celebration of everything that's great with pop music. The crowd seemed to be really digging it too (although I was in the front, so it might have been different in the back).

Anni Rossi put on another good (short) set.... too bad nobody was watching. It was hard to hear her over the insanely rude chatter going on.

Posted by Anonymous | June 25, 2009 4:12 PM

the green spiral lights during "Books" were awesome!

Posted by Anonymous | June 25, 2009 4:18 PM

Thank you for sharing this .

Posted by العاب شمس | June 25, 2009 4:23 PM

I like this band. Wish I went.

Posted by Anonymous | June 25, 2009 4:38 PM

4:12, you're absolutely right about the Anni Rossi set. I was about three rows back, and there were still people up there talking over the set. If you're going to talk, go in the back, huh? And if you're just up there during the opener to stake out a spot for the main act, do us a favor and shut the fuck up?

But, yes, great show!

Posted by Paul G. | June 25, 2009 4:55 PM

I really enjoyed Anni's set, and although the back of Webster was rude and disruptive, I thought the front half of the crowd responded really positively towards her with a lot of applause following each song. The last time I'd seen her (check url) she didn't have a drummer and stood on a suitcase all diy...it sounds better this way.

Posted by Cory | June 25, 2009 5:06 PM

when Anni opened for them in DC, she was standing on the suitcase. Kinda reminded me of early St. Vincent performances when she did all the foot pounding.

Posted by Anonymous | June 25, 2009 5:23 PM

So, let me get this straight if i possiby can...those people ruining the show about 6 or 7 heads back from the center to left corner of the stage (from the bands position) were actually from some absurdly childish MTV show (which I just now looked up and wasted 5 minutes of my life watching) and were sent there to ruin a good time? I don't comprehend this. Those people, about 5 in all, came up from behind me and, though loud and drunkenly obnoxious, didn't bump me or anything, so I dealt with it for fifteen minutes or so. Fortunately for me, and unfortunately for many others, they suddenly jerked across the crowd, arms flailing, running into at least 7 or so people whilst spilling what they were calling vodka and ended up setting up shop where previously there hadn't been room for more than one body. Needless to say, they continued to yell and scream and push people, nearly knocking them over, and even went as far as to give the middle finger repeatedly to two of the girls they had bumped and asking them "to just turn around and watch the @#$%ing show, you dumb bitches!" Somehow nobody threw a punch at either of the obnoxious guys (three guys and two girls if i remember correctly). I'm certain if they had done the same to me I would have either flailed my arms wildly in their general direction for an indeterminate period of time, or have taken the wiser advice of my girlfriend and sought out security. Either way, this was an idiotic and childish thing to do at a lovely concert and I'm pretty sure even the band was annoyed by it.

Posted by Patrick | June 25, 2009 8:06 PM

Some sandy-haired guy with a beard, who was with a tattooed blonde, rudely pushed me aside at one point. Then about 40 minutes later, they pushed their way through again, and shoved a woman next to me TO THE FLOOR. She was about 40 and maybe 5 foot 4, and he slammed her to the ground.

And you're telling me this is related to some crap MTV is doing? Is the guy I'm describing the same one?

This is not funny. Someone should have been arrested for assault. And if MTV had anything to do with this, they should be sued.

Posted by Bailey | June 25, 2009 10:14 PM

Setlist?

Posted by Anonymous | June 26, 2009 12:58 AM

I doubt this had anything to do with MTV (and didn't mean to imply that it was part of the show) but there's no doubt the guy was/is part of that show. Either way, it was disruptive and, as I said in my review, a miracle he didn't get his ass handed to him.

Posted by Dominick | June 26, 2009 10:40 AM

That show is great. Don't be dissin it.

Posted by Anonymous | June 26, 2009 10:48 AM

I'm not sure of the order but this is what I remember them playing:

My Maudlin Career
Honey In The Sun
James
French Navy
Books Written For Girls
Let's Get Out Of This Country
Teenager
Eighties Fan
Tell Me Where It All Went Wrong

encore was
Tougher Than The Rest
Hey Lloyd
Razzle Dazzle Rose

What did I miss?


Posted by Anonymous | June 26, 2009 11:04 AM

I forgot, they played Come Back Margaret as well...

Posted by Anonymous | June 26, 2009 11:07 AM

I actually saw Tracyanne looking down at those morons while singing "Let's Get Out Of This Country." I can certainly say that she was very annoyed by this situation. Such an amazing concert almost ruined by a bunch of kids that had no idea who the band was.

Posted by Anonymous | June 26, 2009 3:16 PM

This is the guy who joked about a ruckus at the March shows - those MTV asshats must have read all that and took it seriously and so crashed this gig. Oh if only I was there, there'd have been a fight. For Traceyanne's and Cary's honor of course.

Posted by Anonymous | June 26, 2009 3:59 PM

I love this band and have unparalleled respect for the music they make. I was at the show on Thursday night and unfortunately I had the displeasure of being one of many people close to the stage that got pushed and shoved by the "famous five". I am usually not some one who would put up with any kind of disrespect without retaliating but what was different that night was that Tracy Ann was singing and you listen when she's telling you about "James", "swans" and about being "afraid to get lost in a city that I may explore"......

Went to the concert with a dear friend who loves Camera Obscura probably just as much as I do for good reason-
moments after the "famous five" made their presence felt by shouting "Take it Off" in the middle of James ......we both knew that this was going to get worse and it did. What followed was dealing with untamed creatures that insisted on behaving like it was their first night out after years of captivity, pushing/shoving and random clapping that consistently skipped all the beats this in combination with rudeness and abuses being hurled in your direction made for a pretty bad night. I'm being polite. After a few verbal exchanges it was pretty clear that the famous five were collectively and independently an absolute waste of time and space. This quote actually describes them pretty accurately "largest pocket of untapped natural gas known to man...."

Even with all the odds against them Camera Obscura managed to keep me and I'm sure everyone there that night completely mesmerized with their music- that keeps getting richer and more refined with every album. I have implicit faith that if Camera Obscura keep going at this rate they will be a Pied Piper that so many of us would gladly follow. Great show - impatiently looking forward to the next one.

Posted by Anonymous | June 27, 2009 2:24 AM

setlist:

My Maudlin Career
Swans
Tears for Affairs
Teenager
The Sweetest Thing
James
Away With Murder
Honey in the Sun
Let's Get Out of This Country
80s Fan
Books Written for Girls
French Navy
Come Back, Margaret
If Looks Could Kill
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Tougher Than the Rest
Hey Lloyd, I'm Ready to Be Heartbroken
Razzle Dazzle Rose

after the show they tracyanne said they'd be around again soon. fingers crossed...

Posted by Anonymous | June 27, 2009 3:42 PM

MEHsMEHrizing!

Posted by Anonymous | June 27, 2009 3:47 PM

Just saw Camera Obscura in Pittsburgh last night -- first time they played there ever. It's a little weird at first because they do have an odd stage presence and don't exactly give off any type of obvious charisma. But they sounded fantastic (they battled the typical Mr. Smalls sound collisions), and Tracyanne opened up a bit as the show went on and cracked some jokes. Setlist was pretty close to the one listed above, if not identical. Can't totally recall. Well, actually their first encore was "Hey Lloyd," so not 100 percent the same. Hopefully they visit again soon.

Anni Rossi's record didn't do much for me, but I think I'm going to revisit it after hearing her live. We had the same issue of assholes not shutting up, which is quite disruptive during such a quiet act. But she soldiered on and put together a pretty interesting set. Glad I got to see her.

Posted by Brian | July 1, 2009 9:50 AM

I forgot, they played Come Back Margaret as well...

Posted by replica handbags | July 5, 2009 3:08 PM

That show is great. Don't be dissin it.

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