Photos by Dawn Hamilton
The Violent Femmes are loads of fun. They know what they’re best at and they stick to it. Punchy, bouncy three minute songs which they perform with veteran expertise and gusto.
The stage is decked out with an array of intriguing instruments. Besides the Electric guitar, saxophone, big fat acoustic bass and a xylophone, there’s a gong, and the standard percussive barbecue (which serves as a hell of an instrument), and a spectacular contrabass sax standing 7 feet tall (including stand). There are several spectacular showcases of the instruments, with Blaise Garza on his contrabass sax during Gimmie the Car and Brian Ritchie’s xylophone skills are hugely entertaining to watch during Gone Daddy Gone.
They blast through over 20 songs in a 90minute set that has the crowd up and dancing in the aisles more than once. It’s a perfected set. Throwing Blister in the Sun and Kiss Off right in the middle is a nice surprise that has the crowd on their feet for the first time in the set. Country Death Song is introduced with a comment that more people like this song than Gordon Gano ever thought. I have to agree. It’s disconcerting to see a crowd clapping along to a song about murdering a child. I’d add Black Girls to this odd lyrical ouvre. I’d prefer them to steer clear of murdering daughters and fetishizing black girls.
It’s clear from the response of the crowd that their early stuff is still the most beloved and enjoyable, but the newer tracks from ninth studio album We Can Do Anything stand up well. The band are good humoured and knit together on stage. It boggles my mind that these old rockers are still so tight 35 years on from their first album.
The set if closed out by a two son encore of Add It Up and Please Do Not Go as the crowd is getting ready to leave. Nicely done Violent Femmes.