What happens when you mix dreamy, super danceable, dense layers of sound, reverb delay, complimented with ethereal vocals? You get the music of award winning New Zealand alternative rock band The Naked and the Famous. When I first heard them several years ago, I fell in love with the voice of lead singer Alisha Xayalith who shares musical magic with back up vocalist, guitarist, writer and producer Thom Powers.
I had the privilege of seeing this band live to a packed audience at Terminal 5 in NYC on October 10th.
They opened the show with ‘A Stillness’ off their newest album “In Rolling Waves.” Next came “Hearts like Ours”, my favorite song on the album. The light show worked in tandem with their lush vocals, projecting vivid beams of blues, oranges and reds. I felt like I was witnessing the Aurora Borealis in the Canadian Rockies on a summer night high on life.
Hearts Like Ours video
I loved Alisha’s outfit and new blonde pixie haircut. Though she has the most beautiful long black hair, her choice to lop it off was a good one. She resembles an anime character with red matte stained pout. She wore a black knee length coat, black pants and what appeared to look like metallic brogues, all of which came together perfectly in a Comme des Garçons-way. In a recent interview, she admitted to styling her own wardrobe without the help of a stylist and doesn’t anticipate using one anytime soon. At’a girl!
“What will you do when something stops you?
What will you say to the world?
What will you be when it all comes crashing
Down on you little girl?
What would you do if you lost your beauty?
How would you deal with the light?
How would you feel if nobody chased you?
What if it happened tonight?”
Don’t we all know someone like the girl they describe? Someone who is superficial, beautiful, the center of attention, but lost and empty. All she has is her outer beauty, which inevitably will crash and burn and wind up splayed like detritus in a NJ Superfund site.
“Rolling Waves” followed and is my second favorite song off their newest album. The songs are slower and darker than “Passive Me, Aggressive You” but I like that they experimented with a different mood and sound. The beauty of it is that you feel Alisha’s vocals “rolling” you to a contemplative haunting place that reaches a crashing, echoing climax.
Rolling Waves video
Ten more songs followed before their encore, “To Move With Purpose” and their most popular dance song “Young Blood” off “Passive Me, Aggressive You.” It is hands down their catchiest most danceable, upbeat song about the vigor and spirit of youth. I never grow tired of this song because it is so uplighting and sums up youth:
“We’re only young and naive still
We require certain skill
The mood it changes like the wind
Hard to control when it begins”
Young Blood video
I was disappointed that they chose this song to be the final encore song. How on earth was I supposed to stop dancing and leave after hearing it? My adrenalin was still pulsing. Looks like I will have to wait until next year to hear it live again, when they finish up their world tour back in the US, March 2014.
Oh well, I might just have to remain in a dream-state until I can be lulled again.