Spoon have made only one big misstep in their ten-plus years of recording albums: Gimme Fiction. The 2005 album, a follow-up to 2002’s absolutely brilliant Kill the Moonlight, marked a step backward for the band’s music and a step forward for its accessibility––an album of decent, friendly, straightforward, catchy, and ultimately forgettable rock songs, an album able to retain the band’s old fans while hooking tons of new ones. Gimme Fiction––save for (pictured) lead singer Britt Daniel’s fantastic voice––sounded like some band aping Spoon, and not doing all that great of a job at it.
This year’s Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga was, appropriately enough, Spoon’s rebirth. Pairing the kind of studio experimentation missing on the band’s previous album with amazing songwriting, Spoon reversed a potential slump by means of a refreshing return to form.
When the band toured in support of Gimme Fiction two years ago, they played a Toronto set that drew largely from their then-new album, with plenty of older material for good measure. It was pretty fun; Gimme Fiction‘s songs were still new enough to be exciting, and a 19+ show at the Phoenix was just the right venue for the band. Last night at the Kool Haus, Spoon triumphantly returned to an ecstatic Toronto audience after a two-year absence…and played a set that drew largely from Gimme Fiction. In fact, for the first hour of the set, they played absolutely nothing from their new album, choosing to churn through a chuck of hit-or-miss older songs instead, a good half of them (the misses) from Gimme Fiction. Consistent technical difficulties, messy timing, and overall audience dickishness throughout the set (this was, after all, an all-ages Kool Haus show) only made things worse, and by the time that Spoon got to songs from their new album, they decided, for some reason, to play them all in the order that they appeared on Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga. Great versions of “The Ghost of You Lingers” and “The Underdog” aside, it was pretty hard to get excited when the whole thing just felt so predictable, so stale, so okay. Here was an amazing band with a brilliant back catalogue––nary a dud among their hundred-odd recorded tracks––pretty much phoning it in.
There’s always 2009, though, right?
Photo by David Topping.