Rilo Kiley @ the Ogden TheatreBy Ricardo Baca | May 23rd, 2008 | No Comments »
Don’t mess with Jenny Lewis’ bangs, man. They’ll totally mess you up. Photos by Laurie Scavo.
When Rilo Kiley is good, damn they’re good. But when they’re bad, I’m at the bar or the merch booth or in the lobby talking with friends, because they’re embarrassingly bad.
Oddly with Rilo Kiley, it’s even more black and white than that.
When the band is playing anything off its first two records, and select songs from their third and fourth records, they’re damn good. But when they’re playing most of the tracks off their third and fourth records, they’re awful.
It’s made going to these last two Rilo Kiley shows – at the Ogden Theatre, both in support of the still newish “Under the Blacklight” – an odd experience. Both shows were heavy on the new material. But they also showed the love to the older stuff, including the excellent gems found in the band’s second, career-defining effort “The Execution of All Things.”
Monday’s show at the Ogden was another back-and-forth affair of love and hate. The most obvious change from the band’s last visit: This time around had no “Smoke Detector,” the failure of a song (off the latest record) that should have never seen the light of day. Thank you, Jenny and Blake, for saving us – and you.
Four of the band’s first five songs on Monday were from “Blacklight,” and of them, “Close Call” worked the best. The lazy guitar flirt with singer Jenny Lewis’s seductive alto in a way that almost makes you blush. The others – “The Moneymaker,” Dreamworld” and “Breakin’ Up” – are largely forgettable.
Some oldies followed, and “Does He Love You?” was delightfully charming, with Lewis taking the lead vocals. Blake Sennett’s “Ripchord” wasn’t as sugary sweet, but it emphasized the band’s two-singer philosophy, and that always keeps things more fresh than the alternative.
“The Absence of God” was fine, but “With Arms Outstretched” was, as always, a triumphant reminder of this band’s beauty and power. Lewis always invites to crowd to sing the last chorus with her – “Some days, they last longer than others …” – and it never fails to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.
The only other moment that compared to the stark beauty of that song was “A Better Son/Daughter,” which comes from the same record, “The Execution of All Things.” On the stage on Monday, the band managed this song’s balance delicately. It starts o-so-quiet, and then it abruptly becomes loud with a bold and lovely declaration by Lewis.
“It’s a Hit” comes from the lackluster third record, and it was only meh. A more potent song from that record, “Portions For Foxes,” sounded only a little bit better as it closed the encore.
“Silver Lining” came late in the set, and the new song is slowly growing on me. It’s intentionally retro – like Lewis’ bangs and clothing – but it also seems closer to the spirit of her band’s earlier work than anything else on the latest album.
Ricardo Baca is the pop music critic for The Denver Post.
Laurie Scavo is a Denver photographer and a regular contributor to Reverb.