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Pernice Brothers played first NYC show in over a decade (pics, setlist, review)

It was both an early show and extremely packed one at Mercury Lounge on Sunday (10/20) for the return of Pernice Brothers, who hadn’t played a full-band show in NYC in over a decade. It had been nearly as long since a new Pernice Brothers album, but thankfully Spread the Feeling precipitated this tour. At 5:30, when Joe Pernice took the stage for a solo opening set, the crowd had spilled out of the main room and into the bar room. Folks were vocal and appreciative and Joe paid in kind, peppering his set with funny, sometimes profane stories that kept us entertained the whole time.

He opened with two tributes to good friends he’d lost this year to suicide: first he covered Silver Jews’ “Trains Across the Sea” and told a story about his and David Berman‘s time together in the MFA program at U Mass Amherst, specifically taking a Forest Fire Prevention elective together. After that he played a song he wrote in tribute to onetime Rhino Records executive Gary Stewart who had championed Joe’s music early in his career. We also got “Bum Leg,” from Pernice’s Big Tobacco album, “Withered on the Vine, “Amazing Glow” and more.

Joe has no trouble holding an audience’s attention with just a guitar and honeyed, breathy vocals, but it was a real treat for everyone to get the full band treatment of their jangly baroque pop. The lineup included the other Pernice brother, Bob, plus drummer Patrick Berkery and Liam Jaeger and Michael McKenzie (who both switched between bass and guitar). We got a nice selection of songs from all their albums, including 2010’s Goodbye Killer, for which they did not tour. The whole set was killer, but I am partial to 2001’s The World Won’t End, and we got “The Ballad of Bjorn Borg” and “Working Girls” from that album, plus the “hits” from the others like “There Goes the Sun,” “The Weakest Shade of Blue,” “Cut the Baby in Two” and “Somerville.” The new album selections sounded great, too, especially “Skinny Jean,” the Cars-y “Mint Condition” and “Throw Me to the Lions.” I hope we don’t have to wait another 10 years to have them back.

Pics from the show in the gallery above, and you can check out setlist and videos from Mercury Lounge below.

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SETLIST: The Pernice Brothers @ Mercury Lounge 10/20/2019
Joe Pernice solo set:
Trains Across The Sea (Silver Jews cover)
[Gary Stewart tribute song]
Bum Leg
Telescope
Withered on the Vine
Prince Valium
Amazing glow
Not the Loving Kind

Full band set:
Eric Saw Colors
Lullabye
Monkey Suit
The Ballad of Bjorn Borg
Something for You
There Goes the Sun
Skinny Jean
I Came Back
Always in All Ways
She Don’t Care About Time (The Byrds cover)
Baby in Two
Throw Me to The Lions
Mint Condition
Working Girls
The Weakest Shade of Blue

Encore:
Somerville

photos by P Squared

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