Live review: Man Man @ the Bluebird TheaterBy Colin St. John | May 23rd, 2011 | No Comments »
If a sell-out at the Bluebird wasn’t enough of an indication of Man Man’s fervent audience, then the widespread concertgoer face-painting — an homage to the chosen bodily accessory of the Philly band — surely was. The quintet pleased its following into mosh-pit-madness, embracing a Dionysian turbulence few other touring groups can equal. (At times, when frontman Ryan Kattner a.k.a. Honus Honus wrangled the vocals from a swap, the show felt ominously liturgical in the style of another sinner, King Khan.)
Man Man’s stage set-up mirrors the band’s preponderance for the wild: a football helmet, suitcase, television, bike wheel and neon paint littering the environs. (Not to mention instruments from saxophones to melodicas.) If it was a junkyard up there, then Man Man was the embodiment of some other Philadelphia residents, Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids.
Honus Honus and his crew embraced such joyous, verdant instincts at the Bluebird, cycling through primitive sing-a-longs like “Top Drawer” (from 2008’s “Rabbit Habbits”) and slightly more pensive fare like “Life Fantastic” (the self-titled track from the new Mike Mogis-produced LP). As with any feral bacchanal, though, the show wore near the end, bordering on hangover. Man Man played too many songs during its encore/second set and — after a blast through “Engrish Bwudd” — if you weren’t tired, you had some really good drugs.
Shilpa Ray and Her Happy Hookers opened the night and were wonderful. Her tempestuous presence ranged from her hair to harmonium play to her ballerina spins towards the end of “The Chelsea Clinic Physical.” Most striking, though, is Ray’s voice: something of a split difference between Chrissie Hynde’s depth and Pat Benatar’s acuteness. “Do you love your freedom?,” Ray posited on “Chelsea” and being in her company Friday solicited an unequivocal “yes.”