Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Hooray for Sunday

The Minders and Marbles
The Dame in Lexington, KY

Robert Schneider has been releasing material under the Marbles moniker since 1992; this is hardly a new endeavor. Schneider’s last Marbles release, Expo, came out in March of 2005 after which he did a nationwide tour with Clem Snide showcasing his newest brand of Casio-infused, ELO-inspired, dancetastic music across the land. These shows were being played specifically in support of the new album and there was an entire choreographed stage show that included Schneider performing as a spaceman with a giant boombox and essentially karaoking to his own songs. However, the show at The Dame on Sunday night was different; there was no new album to perform and no expectations placed on Schneider apart from warming the audience and readying the stage for old friends The Minders.

Schneider played an acoustic set of songs that ranged from the Apples’ debut album Fun Trick Noisemaker, the only other Marbles album Pyramid Landing (And other favorites), to the upcoming and highly-anticipated Apples release New Magnetic Wonder. I’ve seen Schneider perform many times, with all of his various endeavors but I have never seen a more comprehensive set. It was a wonderful treat to hear “Tidal Wave” and “She’s Just Like Me” sung onstage; I’m impressed Schneider still remembers them. I imagine such a low-stress show really gave him the freedom to play whatever he wanted to. In fact, many of the songs he did play were requests or suggestions from the audience; Martyn Leaper himself requested “Pine Away”.

Schneider is indeed a true performer; he never fails to entertain, not even when he stops mid-set to check his text messages.

Headlining the show was the Denver, CO based band The Minders. The Minders are close friends of Robert Schneider and, in fact, Schneider was sort of a founding member of the band. He was there from the get go and has been involved with the band, producing albums/songs, and contributing musically since its creation. The Minders produce exactly the kind of sounds that pop into one’s head when they think of the Elephant 6 collective. Googley-woogely pop goodness, with an obvious 60’s psychadelia influence. Martyn Leaper, the band’s premiere singer songwriter, has a great sense of melody and structure. His songs flow perfectly, with a mysterious lead guitar tone or a piano integrated at just the perfect moment, just the right amount of flare. The Minders’ new album It’s a Bright, Guilty World finds the band at the closest they’ve ever come to living up to their seminal debut Hooray For Tuesday, the pop album that is so perfect that not even its creators can top it.

The band’s performance was a perfect representation of their sound altogether. High energy, bouncing around, and all the stuff that makes you want to dance it! The set primarily featured songs from the new album but also included some extra surprises like a cover of the Syd Barrett song “Lucifer Sam” (from Pink Floyd’s Piper at the Gates of Dawn), “Now I Can Smile” and the show’s closer “Hooray For Tuesday”. The band itself is very tight and they seemed well rehearsed, which is pretty par for the course considering they’ve been touring with Of Montreal for the past month, playing in a new city every night. Leaper invited Robert Schneider onstage to play two songs with the band, the fuzz guitar track “357” and the classic “Hooray For Tuesday”. Both times Schneider was playing with the band it was evident how happy they all made each other; they seemed to be simply rejoicing in one another’s sheer presence. By the end of “Hooray For Tuesday”, on which Schneider assisted on tambourine and filling in the backing vocals, which he himself sang on the recording, it seemed that the band didn’t want to get off the stage any more than we wanted them to. It was an elating experience.

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