Mew's Jonas Bjerre

Mew at the Troubadour, West Hollywood, CA

Photos of the Danish Band

Sep 02, 2009 Photography by Wendy Lynch Redfern Bookmark and Share

The Danish trio Mew (who are a five-piece live) took the Troubadour stage for a sold-out show and launched right into "New Terrain," the opening track to the band's lengthily titled new album, No more stories/Are told today/I'm sorry/They washed away/No more stories/The world is grey/I'm tired/Let's wash away. On record the song is awash with backwards vocals and, live, singer Jonas Bjerre seemed to warp his pipes in a similar fashion. Guitarist Bo Madsen started "New Terrain" playing bongo drums, before switching to the guitar. The song was loudits bass and drums tickling at the ears and making the $2 earplugs sold at the bar briefly tempting. Silas Utke Graae Jørgensen's drums were set up on the left of the stage, rather than at the back as they are usually set up, so that he played with his side to the audience.

Throughout Mew's set, the band seemed to group songs per album. This worked especially well for the songs from And the Glass Handed Kites, as the songs all blended and ran together on that album. So live, as on the album, "Special" led straight into "The Zookeeper's Boy." During the latter, images of giraffes were projected behind the band to match the song's lyrics. And as on 2003's Frengers, live "Am I Wry? No" was followed by "156."

The band didn't say much, not that their wondrous sonic assault left much room for banter. At one point Bjerre simply said, "It's wonderful to be back here finally." Later a female audience member flirtatiously yelled, "Two hot nurses in the VIP!" To which Bjerre bemusedly responded, "Two hot nurses in the VIP? I don't know what that means." "Two hot nurses" likely equals potential groupies, but that doesn't seem like Bjerre's style.

"We're going to play a song for you we've never played live before," said Madsen when the band returned to the stage for the encore and played No More Stories' track "Beach." After that, the rest of the band left the stage, leaving Madsen to start off the Danes' signature set closer, "Comforting Sounds." Madsen started off on guitar. Then Bjerre returned to the stage to join in on vocals and one by one the other members joined them. The epic "Comforting Sounds" was as chill-inducing as ever and this reviewer longed for a second encore that just consisted of repeat performances of the Frengers' finale. Watching Mew perform "Comforting Sounds" is up there as one of the most sublime live show experiences you can currently have. Words can barely describe the primal affect it can have on the listener. Which is why it almost angered this reviewer to watch three people leave the venue just before the best song by one of the best live bands around got to it's best part, when the guitars and drums really kick in and song truly takes off. Why would you come out to a show, only to leave five minutes before it ends, thus missing the most glorious part of the performance? It's confounding.

Perhaps the most impressive instrument of the night, despite all the prog mastery channeled through Madsen's guitar, was Bjerre's voice. All too often, a disarming voice on record disappoints live, but Bjerre hits registers and raises his voice to emotional heights that have the ability to melt hearts and get your geese a-bumping. This was no more apparent than on the second half of "Comforting Sounds," his voice both blending with and rising above the epicness.

Check out a full gallery of photos of Mew at the Troubadour.



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