The thrilling debut album from this intense New York City trio makes their city feel alive once again
London SE1 Queen Elizabeth Hall
They're as extraordinary and as near to perfect as you could possibly dream.
This revelation comes not as the amassed Lambchop massive (20 bodies, to be exact, taking in string section, horns, guitars - steel, bass, and electric - and Wagner's dry rasp) out-groove Curtis Mayfield on his own 'Give Me Your Love', nor when Wagner tears into a Teddy Pendergrass classic by way of an encore. It's obvious throughout, in the lush sighs of sound Lambchop glide across, in Wagner's exquisite deployment of heart-breaking chords, in his simultaneously understated and emotion-haemorrhaging wheeze.
It's most definitely felt in the hand-clap shuffle-funk of new single 'Up With People', tonight geared up into a celebratory stomp, whose perversely glad refrain of "We are screwing up our lives today!" is greeted with a two-minute standing ovation. The applause grows with each song, Wagner fending off yelled affirmations like "You're a genius!" and "Give up the day job!" with a bumbling, "Aw shucks" sincerity.
But if tonight serves as some dream celebration of Lambchop's songs rendered so perfectly, then it also showcases the other, less obvious side of Lambchop. They open with the traditional murder balladry of 'The Butcher Boy' and its stark bleakness sees Wagner exploring all the anguish his splintered vocal can capture.
Memphis, via Nashville. Al Green backed by slide guitars. Extremes and contrariness, like life itself, are the meat of Lambchop's trade. They're as extraordinary and as near to perfect as you could possibly dream.
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