Solid second stage headliners.
It’s been a quiet few years for Mercury Rev recently but with a new album due this month, the timing couldn’t have been better for their second stage headline slot at Connect. Kasabian may have been deemed the true headline act on Friday night but for those who like a history of great songs for an evening’s entertainment, Mercury Rev were an equal, if not more important, draw.
Jonathan Donahue remains a front man worth watching and even a beard can’t change his on stage presence, with his usual weird shapes and postures catching the eye. Considering that Grasshopper is no stranger to pulling moves and shapes it lets you know how much Donahue gestures when you consider that he gets the vast majority of stage attention. None more so than at the end of an impeccable ‘The Dark is rising’ when the line “In my dreams I’m always strong” is met with Donahue striking a He-man / weight-lifting / Hulk Hogan (delete as applicable) pose to indicate his strength, It’s the exact same pose the front man has been using for a number of years but it is no less funny or eye-catching now than it was on first viewing.
Mercury Rev may not contain the same style of theatrics that the Flaming Lips have become known for now but the sense of putting on a show still lies at the heart of every gig Mercury Rev puts on. “Bands..those funny little plans…that never were quite right” may indicate the parting of the ways between these acts but both are definitely held in high regards for many people.
New track ‘Senses on Fire’ appeared late on in the set and it easily came across as the best of the new material. Grasshopper took the opportunity to make his guitar squeal and sound like no other, all the while Donahue was intoning the song title over and over and the track brought some to life to the set. As the lyric ran “ready or not, here I come” the inclusion of this track really upped the tempo of the show and you could see that the mood and energy of the crowd had been lifted by this track.
As likable as Mercury Rev are, there has been a feeling that the band have been coasting in recent years with too many songs sounding ‘Mercury Rev by numbers’ to be taken too seriously. When it works well, it’s tremendous but sometimes a band can sound too close to themselves to be completely enjoyable. This song gives hope that Mercury Rev have managed to re-energize their sound. No one is expecting a song to put the kick back in a young mans stride but a few changes in pace will be much appreciated.
‘Goddess on A Hiway’ remains the track that heralded the current phase of Mercury revs popularity and its hard to argue with the sing-along quality of the track. It had been the end of a long day for people following the bands and there aren’t too many ways better ways to end an evening than watching Mercury Rev in full flow.