Thursday, December 8, 2016

The Majorleans Return to Mercury Lounge

Mercury Lounge's most iconic feature had to have been its wall sconces.  The dim incandescent bulbs entrenched in decorative wire cages looked like giant firefly abdomens, just barely illuminating the showroom's brick walls to give it a feel that was somehow simultaneously dingy and classy.  They were even used in the lounge's website design for years until the Bowery Presents overhauled the page to include their other venues.  So imagine my shock last night when I stepped into the room to find them replaced with new fixtures that appear as if someone sliced a scalloped pitcher in half, stuck it over a LED light, and glued it to an elongated octagon made of reflective material streaked with blue wisps.  They look like shit and I don't know what they were thinking.  Almost exactly a year ago, when the original sconces remained, the Majorleans played the Mercury Lounge, unveiling a selection of new tunes that Nicky Francis and Chris Buckle had been workshopping for their next album, Carouser's End.  Last night, the band played all seven songs from the upcoming record.
The set got off to a shaky start, as inconsistent monitor levels had the members struggling to hear each other, with Buckle having difficulty harmonizing during "Mr. Magic."  After some adjustments, the band rallied behind "Give It All to Me," having lived in the Carouser's tunes long enough now that they've become staples.  The older Black Belt numbers benefitted from being reworked as well.  "Imaginary Plane" has always been my least favorite Majorleans song, but for this go-round, they slowed it down, allowing me to hear just how deep the pocket of rhythm section Bongers & Brooks goes.  By the time they'd reached the end of "What I Mean" five songs in, the confidence was visible, Nicky shaking his narrow hips as the crowd clapped for more.  "Once the pendulum starts swinging, it doesn't stop," Francis acknowledged.  "Not in those jeans!" came a teasing rebuttal from a crowdmember.  Trading out his Rickenbacker electric for a Gibson acoustic, Nicky led the band on a duo of Carouser's ditties, "Under the Spell" and "Sunrise Mary," the latter of which was greeted with knowing cheers from the audience.

Almost as big of a surprise as the new lighting on the walls, but entirely more welcome, was the second live performance ever of "Lonesome Seaside Driving School."  Written while driving along the southern coast of France, the introspective and atmospheric ballad stood proudly amid the band's rockers.  Having pulled it off without a hitch, Nicky warned the people, "It's all biscuits in your mouth from here on out, so be ready."  He held onto the Gibson for a terrific "Under Ma Wheels" before returning to the Rick on "Tattoo."  Chris sustained the song's final note to give Francis enough leeway to slap on a capo for their frequent closer and time-tested crowd-pleaser "Never Had Enough."  While it definitely sucks about the sconces, fortunately the Mercury Lounge will always be about the music, first and foremost.

THE MAJORLEANS - 12.07.16 - MERCURY LOUNGE (53 minutes)

Mr. Magic / Give It All to Me / Imaginary Plane / Set to Receive / What I Mean / Under the Spell / Sunrise Mary / Lonesome Seaside Driving School / Under Ma Wheels / Tattoo > Never Had Enough

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