On a February night that shockingly felt like springtime in New York City on February 23rd, two rock and roll acts pulled into the west side of Manhattan. With their recent release Near To The Wild Heart Of Life the Japandroids booked their largest venue to date in New York and while Terminal 5 was not sold out, it was buzzing early.
Part of that could have been the opening act as Craig Finn took the stage with his backing band The Uptown Controllers. The Brooklyn-based Finn thanked the crowd for joining them to open the evening and they did so with “Apollo Bay” featuring a noise rock ending that melted into a huge drum intro for “Maggie I’ve Been Searching For Our Son”. Finn will be releasing a new album in a month titled We All Want The Same Thing and from it he played “Preludes”, which had an 80’s new wave vibe, as well as “Be Honest” which is a perfect vehicle for Finn’s amazing lyrical work.
“Newmyer’s Roof” was dedicated to all the fans who have been in this town for the last sixteen years while the forty minute opening set ended with “Trapper Avenue” as backing vocals substituted for horns. While it was disappointing that no Hold Steady songs popped up, the solo show focus of Finn was a great start to the night.
The duo from Vancouver, CA were up next and the two piece started off soaring with the title track of their newest release. The riffs from Brian King and the powerhouse drums of David Prowse filled up the venue as the opening run of songs “Adrenaline Nightshift” and “Fire’s Highway” cooked. The band’s newer tunes like “North South East West” and “No Known Drink or Drug” were warmly received but fans were there for the numbers they have lived with and loved over the last eight plus years that the band has been on the scene.
For a headlining live-set the group has an interesting dilemma as all three of their albums are short eight-song bursts of raucous rock tunes that don’t lend well to the ebbs and flows of an hour and a half run.
The older songs such as “I Quit Girls” and “Wet Hair” acted as pauses in the action while the Tom Petty pumping of “Evil Sway” the energetic “Younger Us” and the slamming “The Nights of Wine and Roses” managed to work the crowd into a pumping frenzy causing mini pits and crowd surfing galore. The band’s best tune “The House That Heaven Built” seemed to end their set as the sweat poured off the duo, but they still had some energy left to bring out Finn for a punk rock cover of The Saints “(I’m) Stranded” which ended the whole shebang on a scorching high note for all parties involved.