It’s pretty risky to release an album and embark on a tour which focuses almost exclusively on the new material, especially when your old stuff is particularly beloved and well-known. You can’t blame the audience then for not responding as enthusiastically as you might like – they don’t know the new songs and so find them more difficult to apppreciate. That doesn’t mean that they don’t like you or your new material!
This was exactly the situation at Friday night’s gig by The Dø @ Komplex. In 2008 the French/Finnish duo’s first album, A Mouthful, was a huge hit in France and elsewhere, with it’s catchy and distinct mix of indie pop with bluesy folk rock. The Dø released their second album, Both Ways Open Jaws, on 7th March 2011, just 11 days before the Zurich show. I expected that they would play a fair few tracks from the new album, and mix it with most of the goodies from A Mouthful.
But in the end there were only a handful of tracks from A Mouthful (‘On My Shoulders’, ‘Aha’ and ‘Plaground Hustle’), with the rest of the evening’s tracks coming from Both Ways Open Jaws. The audience received the new material politely but it was clear they were waiting for something they knew better and could dance to. You can criticise me for subscribing to that old cliche, ‘I like their old stuff better than their new stuff’ – guilty as charged – but hey, I haven’t even had time to get to know the new stuff yet! There’s a fine line between wanting to showcase your new material and giving the audience what they want, I know, and of course, artists get bored playing the same old stuff over and over. But tonight I think they misjudged it.
Despite (the incredibly beautiful) Olivia Merilahti and Dan Levy’s half-hearted comments that they didn’t expect such a great turn out in Zurich, it was clear they didn’t think much of the evening, as the encore consisted of just 1.5 songs – a brief a cappela ‘Moon Mermaids’, and then ‘Dust It Off’ - other gigs were treated to a second encore and the wonderful ‘The Bridge Is Broken’. Hmmm.
Complaints about the setlist aside, there were some flashes of brilliance. ‘Too Insistent’ was lovely, and ‘On Your Shoulders’ displayed the smoky eccentricities of Merilahti’s voice perfectly. Their bluesy cover of Janelle Monae‘s ‘Tightrope‘ was funky and energetic. The final song ‘Dust it Off’ was a frenetic light spectacular. Some disco ball lighting added a dramatic, sparkly atmosphere, and I loved the extra instruments set up for the drummer, keyboardist and brass player – a series of silver spoons and large serving platters and trays hung up in rows. In fact, the multi-instrumental band were fantastic, especially the guitar player/drummer, and the two women on keyboards/trumpet/sax/spoons and trays.
The frustrating thing was, if only they’d taken the time to get the mix of old and new right, it would have been spectacular.