Beth and I went to see Yo La Tengo at the Neptune Theatre last night. We’ve both been big fans of the band for many years. I don’t remember exactly, but I’m fairly certain one of the first times we communicated online was in the comments to a Yo La Tengo concert review I wrote back in the Vox days. Although we’ve both seen the band perform multiple times, this was the first time we’d seen them together.
As such, this show was highly anticipated for us and we got there early. We were maybe sixth and seventh in line. The doors opened and we hustled upstairs and snagged the two middle seats in the front row of the balcony. We had to then wait an hour for the show to begin, but it ended up looking like this:
That’s a great view. The concert was the second-to-last stop on Yo La Tengo’s Stuff Like That There tour and included a fourth band member, Dave Schramm, on electric guitar. (That’s him sitting over on the left in the picture.) The rest of the band was James McNew on upright bass, Georgia Hubley on a stand-up drum kit, and Ira Kaplan on acoustic guitar. They played a lot of songs from the new record, a few from Fakebook, a series of other covers, and a selection of originals from the band’s 30+ year career. These songs were broken up into two full sets and a three song encore.
Here’s the setlist:
First set: You Tore Me Down (the Flamin’ Groovies) / The Point of It / Rickety / My Heart’s Not in It* (Darlene McCrae) / I Can Feel the Ice Melting (the Parliaments) / Naples* (Antietam) / The Ballad of Red Buckets / Somebody’s in Love (Sun Ra) / Corona+ (the Minutemen) / Tom Courtenay* / A Song For You (Gram Parsons)
Second set: Friday I’m in Love* (the Cure) / Season of the Shark / I Can Hear Music+ (the Ronettes) / All Your Secrets / Butchie’s Tune* (the Lovin’ Spoonful) / Awhileaway / Pass the Hatchet, I Think I’m Goodkind / Today Is the Day* / Can’t Forget / Griselda (the Holy Modal Rounders) / Ohm / Our Way to Fall
Encore: Double Dare / Ruler of My Heart* (Allen Toussaint) / Speeding Motorcycle (Daniel Johnston) –> The Whole of the Law (the Only Ones) –> Speeding Motorcycle
I should mention that the songs marked with an asterisk featured lead vocals by Georgia, while songs with a plus sign were sung by James. The rest were sung by Ira or a combination of him and Georgia. I was particularly happy with the seven Georgia songs. She’s recently become one of my favorite singers (see: Georgia Sings!, the two-part comp I made a few months ago), and it was nice to hear her contribute so much to the show. Other highlights included James McNew doing the Minutemen’s “Corona”, everything from Fakebook, and a beautiful version of “Ohm”. There aren’t many songs out there that I like more than “Ohm”.
Overall, it was just about a perfect night of music. Yo La Tengo at the Neptune Theatre is definitely the best concert I’ve seen so far this year. As I don’t have any additional shows scheduled, I’ll go ahead and declare it Concert of the Year. Hurrah!