A.C. Newman @ The Bell House

16Nov08

acnewman

A.C. Newman took to the Bell House stage last night after what he claimed was a three-and-a-half year hiatus spent “working his day job.” Seems normal, except for the fact that his day job is lead singer of the highly successful Canadian band The New Pornographers. Since releasing his first solo album The Slow Wonder in 2004, Newman and the rest of The New Pornographers have released two albums and played numerous shows around the world. So, yeah, I’ll cut him some slack for taking a three year “break” from his solo gig.

Last night, Newman was joined by Nicole Atkins (of Nicole Atkins & the Sea) for the entire set. It wasn’t a guest performance, as Atkins provides the back-up vocals on Newman’s upcoming album Get Guilty. Having never seen A.C. Newman perform solo I was afraid I’d be missing the rest of The New Pornographers. I must admit it was odd at first to see a whole other set of musicians on stage (where is Kathryn at the keyboard? Where is Blaine and his trusty laptop? And who is this woman in Neko’s place??), and I secretly thought that the rest of The New Pornographers would be surprise guests. Though I guess that would mess up the whole idea of going solo. But the new band was very good, and there was even a violin and an accordion added to the mix. And Atkins was a great addition, in terms of back-up vocals.

If I put songs from A.C. Newman’s solo album into a playlist with songs produced by The New Pornographers and then hit shuffle, it would be hard to tell which songs came from which album. But I think that’s inevitable given that the lead singer/songwriter is the same for both albums. The main difference is that on his solo album, Newman is always the lead vocalist, whereas The New Pornographers’ songs also feature vocals from Kathryn Calder, Neko Case, and Dan Bejar. The point is that Newman’s solo material isn’t a huge departure from his day job, which is fine by me (see previous post).

Now a resident of Brooklyn, Newman announced that he lived only seven blocks away from last night’s venue, and he explained that he will only see shows at The Bell House, as there is no band that could get him to cross the river into Manhattan. I’m not quite ready to join that club, but I’d definitely be happy if more bands played at The Bell House. Despite being held at a location that may be considered to be off the beaten path, last night’s show was sold out. And it’s a pretty big place. And it was raining. So nice work, A.C. Newman.

Unfortunately, I missed opening band Bird of Youth. I would have liked to have seen them, but I did arrive in time for The Oranges Band, a fun Maryland-based group. They played a good set, and then lead singer Roman Kuebler invited his dad onstage to plug the band’s merchandise table in the back. What followed was an impressive sales pitch by a man with a voice seemingly made for radio…or his own musical career(?). As his dad left the stage, Roman returned the favor by mentioning his dad’s MySpace page, confirming that he, too, had an album. Oh these musical families and their cross-promotional ways…

A.C. Newman’s Get Guilty will be out on January, but you can download a song (plus a bunch of songs from other Matador artists) at the Matablog.

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3 Responses to “A.C. Newman @ The Bell House”

  1. Hey there,

    Nice review. I sorta wish Carl would focus on his solo projects and give the NP a bit of a break.

    Matt

  2. 2 eb

    Newman’s stellar performance aside, the other highlight of the evening seemed to be the Red Hook ballfield vendors stationed outside the venue!

  3. Very true. It was a nice surprise addition to The Bell House. Hope they come back often.


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