Pavement at Ogden Theatre - 09.09.10
With guests Jenny and Johnny
09.09.10 | Ogden Theatre, Denver
Jenny and Johnny opened this show and received a mixed reception from the crowd at first. But appreciative cheers for the group, which features Jenny Lewis and Jonathan Rice, increased with every song. The band's sometimes bluesy, jangly guitar pop traversed the territory of country and rock with ease and versatility.
In moments, thanks to its use of unconventional rhythmic elements and expansive melodic structures, Jenny and Johnny resembled a more arid version of Talking Heads. Although Lewis and Rice harmonized well together, it was Lewis's signature sharp, forceful tone and slight up-ward lilt that stood out strongly across each song. And her wry wit and smart observations made what might otherwise be fairly conventional songs into insightful commentary.
One of the first three Neu! albums played between sets, and with a small amount of fanfare, Pavement took the stage at the Ogden for the first time since the '90s. Bob Nastanovich welcomed us to the show, as the guys played an instrumental number before going into "Shady Lane," eliciting enthusiastic reactions from the audience including one guy who marveled, "I can't believe I'm actually seeing this."
Such effusive declarations aside, to be fair, if Pavement sounded better and played better in the past, it would have been hard to believe, because these guys played like they meant it. Even the sardonic Stephen Malkmus couldn't, from time to time, suppress a smile of genuine pleasure at playing these songs again.
What was interesting to witness was how Malkmus and Kannberg pulled apart the melodies and brought them back together in a variety of configurations that truly explored the possibilities and range of guitar interplay, like not nearly enough rock bands ever have.