Los Angeles, CA
2011 – 07/27
With the recent release of Eleanor Friedberger’s first solo album, entitled Last Summer, it is clear that those variable qualities are not exclusive to the duo. Last Summer is not as hard to wrap one’s mind around like most Fiery Furnaces albums, but it does incorporate a mix of fluttered guitars, jazzy piano, and contrasting moods that is familiar to fans. What Friedberger adds is a more personal, delicate touch that is fresh, fun, and a bit retro. Not retro as in outdated, but retro as in something classic that listeners will want to listen to years from now.
What Friedberger adds is a more personal, delicate touch that is fresh, fun, and a bit retro. Not retro as in outdated, but retro as in something classic that listeners will want to listen to years from now.
At the Satellite in Los Angeles, Friedberger filled her set with even more surprises. One thing any fan of The Fiery Furnaces learns is to expect the unexpected. The first surprise was seeing Friedberger up on stage by her lonesome, with no backing band. Just her and her electric guitar. Secondly, about a third of her set consisted of completely new material — as in, songs that were not on her album released just a few weeks ago. It is a bit strange for an artist to go on tour in support of a new album and not solely focus on those songs. But considering that most prolific songwriters are always creating something new, it is not that much of a shock, and it’s always fun to play guinea pig and hear an artist’s latest work. When it comes to a Friedberger, though, those songs will probably be transformed into something completely unrecognizable if they make it onto a future release.
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With a smile throughout her set, Friedberger had a sun-kissed look as if she had spent the entire summer in Santa Monica. In between songs, she giggled nervously and said that she had prepared jokes but felt too silly to share them. To see such an exceptional and seasoned musician like Friedberger act in a bashful manner was humbling.
Besides the new songs, which all sounded like they could have fit nicely into Last Summer, Friedberger’s set included stripped-down versions of “I Won’t Fall Apart On You Tonight” and “My Mistakes.” With little elaboration, the songs had a new charming feel to them. By contrast, songs like “Inn Of The Seventh Ray” and “Early Earthquake” were a bit harder to adjust to without the accompanying piano and harmonica parts that are heard on the album, but such things did not take away from the great performance. Friedberger also gave a quiet spin to The Fiery Furnaces’ song “Lost At Sea” and Spoon’s “Trouble Comes Running.” (Spoon’s lead singer, Britt Daniel, is featured on Friedberger’s video for “My Mistakes.”)
For those unfamiliar with Friedberger’s work, the performance was a nice introduction to her music. For those already familiar, it was another unique experience added to the list. It will be interesting to hear how the songs will be revamped during Friedberger’s fall tour, where she will play with a full band as an opener for The Kills.