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Phoenix brought hits, balloons, gelato & more to 1st night of “Ti Amo” residency (pics, review)

Phoenix promised something “very speciale” at their five-night “Ti Amo” residency at Brooklyn Steel and at Thursday night’s kickoff (7/5) it was clear they meant it. Keeping with the viva l’Italia vibe of Ti Amo, Brooklyn Steel was decked out in a supermercato theme, with a gelato stand (fiore di latte among the flavors offered), ’80s style Italian perfume ads, and a Ti Amo vending machine that sold cassettes, Phoenix-branded earrings, underwear, and other tchotchkes. In the main venue there was an old Telefono booth that would come into play during the encore and generally served as a selfie location for fans, and balloons in the Italian flag’s colors dropped on the crowd at the end of the night. Slightly off brand, there was also Phoenix’s own brand of sake (sold at a stand with an ice sculpture) and Williamsburg Vietnamese restaurant BEP, which is owned by an old Parisian friend of the band’s, recreated special sandwiches they all ate as kids.

Even without all this stuff, this would have been a memorable night as Phoenix remain an incredible live band. While Ti Amo, the album, leaves me mostly nonplussed, its singles “J Boy” (which opened the night), “Fior Di Latte” and the LP’s title track (best song on the LP) all were more exciting on stage, with a louder-than-you’d-expect attack and a killer light show that made great use of the giant projection screen. They are also aided in no small part by drummer Thomas Hedlund, the band’s secret weapon of many years, who is a total beast behind the kit, hitting way harder than you’d ever expect for a pop band like Phoenix, and maxing up the energy in the room immeasurably.

Thursday was a real hitfest and the crowd was, at times, louder than beaming frontman Thomas Mars, singing along to “Lasso,” “Lisztomania,” “Trying to Be Cool,” “Consolation Prizes,” “Too Young,” “Girlfriend,” and “1901.” Much to the delight of the fan holding up a “FUNKY SQUAREDANCE!” sign, they worked in a bit of that into the main-set-closing “If I Ever Feel Better.” The only songs I really wanted to hear that they didn’t play were “Long Distance Call” and “Everything is Everything.” Setlist is below.

Thomas Mars spent most of the 20-minute encore in the middle of the floor, pulling his mic cord through the crowd while singing “Countdown,” and making his way over to the phone booth for “Telefono.” He was back up on stage when the balloons dropped but then materialized atop the middle of the crowd, being carried above for a reprise of “Ti Amo.” It is a very slick show, aimed to please, and Phoenix really delivered.

Keeping with the Italian theme, they brought Novara, Italy’s Giorgio Poi over to open the residency shows (their first-ever visit to the U.S.). Though their songs were entirely in Italian, there was an almost Mac DeMarco/Unknown Mortal Orchestra vibe to the music, with a killer rhythm section. Giorgio Poi were clearly excited to be playing to such a big crowd for their NYC/US debut, and that translated to the crowd (most of whom had never heard them before, including this writer). Pictures from their set and the whole night are in the gallery above.

Phoenix’s Ti Amo residency continues tonight, Saturday, Monday and Tuesday and all four are sold out. You can however watch a Pitchfork livestream (via their YouTube) of Monday’s show (7/9) at 9 PM.

PHOENIX @ Brooklyn Steel 7/5/2018
J-Boy
Lasso
Entertainment
Lisztomania
Trying to Be Cool / Drakkar Noir (Second half)
Consolation Prizes
Role Model
Rally
Too Young
Girlfriend
SUNSKRUPT!
Ti amo
Armistice
Rome
If I Ever Feel Better (with “Funky Squaredance (Part 3)” interlude)

Encore:
Countdown
Telefono
Fior Di Latte
1901
Ti Amo di Piu

photos by Em Grey

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