Phoenix @ The Palace, Melbourne (3/9/09)

We all have a few albums you have that you can reliably listen to and feel great. Phoenix’s latest Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix is one such – despite its rather bold title. Given the hype they have generated in the blogosphere, I It was then with excitement that I approached their gig at the Palace.

Phoenix opened with Lisztomania, their strongest track on the aforementioned WAP. The guitar hook was instantly recognisable and at once the entire crowd started bouncing. The liveliness was maintained for Long Distance Call and Consolation Prize from their 2006 album It’s Never Been Like That. It was a punchy and energetic opening that well and truly would have shaken any semblance of Mondayitis out of the rather segregated crowd – arranged with the youths squished front of stage and the mature ones in the wings and dress circle.

Allowing himself a moment to draw breath, frontman Thomas Mars effusively thanked the crowd. For what I’m not entirely sure, it was just the beginning of the set, but goddammit he can do anything he wants with that floppy bowlcut and his boyish looks. Concerningly, many times during the set I thought he was only moments away from garrotting himself such was the way he twirled the mic chord around his neck.

Phoenix slowed things down ever-so-slightly with Lasso, then Napoleon Says with its great call and response guitar parts and Funky Squaredance. Then the Frenchies took us down a more rock’n’roll path with Rally and Sometimes in the Fall.

The pace of the proceedings took their toll on Mars and the symphonic Love Like a Sunset gave him a chance to catch his breath as he lay prostrate on the stage. Oldie, but goldie, Run Run Run was next and then in the blink of an eye Rome rounded off the set proper. If ever there was a pointer to an encore it was the absence of 1901. They made us wait with If I Ever Feel Better and Too Young preceding but when that 1901 riff pounded out of the amps, the crowd summoned that last bit of euphoria and went bananas.

Having never seen them live before I was interested if to see if Thomas Mars’s synth-like vocals were an affectation of the real deal – I’m glad to say they were. There were jackass elements of the crowd (chomping teens the worst culprits) but thankfully the lads were good enough to draw everyone’s attention away from the munters and on to their great show. Bravo!