Phoenix rise to the occasion in Boston

A review of Phoenix at the Agganis Arena on October 18, 2010

, Managing Editor

Since releasing their fourth studio album, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, in Spring 2009, Phoenix have been as hot as the city with the same name. Their last time in Boston, as they were just beginning to pick up steam, the French foursome played the more modest Paradise Rock Club. For their return visit it was clear just how big they’ve grown since then as they played to a much more sizeable audience at Agganis Arena.

Phoenix are in the midst of taking another stateside trip as a sort of victory lap before they head back oversees and cut a new album. It’s certainly time for that, as hit singles like “1901” and “Lisztomania” have been in regular radio rotation for quite some time now. Still, fans let the band know that they hadn’t had enough yet right from the start as the Boston crowd on the floor basked in the strobed-out performance of the latter track which opened the show.

Phoenix ripped through their 80-minute set, rarely stopping for banter and slowing the tempo even less often. The closest thing to a downbeat tune was the mild start of “Long Distance Call”, until the peculiar performance of “Love Like A Sunset”. Lead singer Thomas Mars laid down on stage for the majority of the largely instrumental number. It was a little odd seeing him positioned like that, especially since the song is one of their longest. Still, it was mostly overlooked by the fans, who were eating up the vibes, and Mars was back in top form shortly after for the more R&B-ish “Run, Run, Run”. The Frenchmen’s weird side was better embraced later in the set during “Funky Squaredance” which lives up to its name thanks to vocal effects.

After appearing in the middle of the floor for the encore for two acoustic songs, including one in French, it came to the point that the band had played every song of off Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix except “1901”. The group headed back to the stage and left the crowd in an enjoyable suspense as they picked things back up with “If I Ever Feel Better”. When it finally came time, the band made “1901” worth the wait. After an energetic completion of the song, some fans started to head for the exits as the ringing synth seemed to signal the show’s conclusion but instead Mars re-introduced himself to the floor as the band kicked into an extended ending while their lead singer took his mic out to the stands.

Like the wait for “1901”, hopefully the wait for Phoenix’s next album will be just as worth it. So, while there are labor riots currently occurring in their home of France, at least we know there are four Frenchmen looking to get right to work.

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