This past Sunday night at New York’s Terminal 5, Shins frontman James Mercer was supported by the band’s newest lineup – composed of Jessica Dobson on guitar, Yuuki Matthews on bass, Joe Plummer on drums and Richard Swift on keyboards.
It was the first of three consecutive nights in front of a sold-out crowd. The young audience roared with approval as Mercer opened the set with “Caring is Creepy,” the first track off the 2001 debut Oh, Inverted World. Here he was a decade later, hitting all the notes, fresh off the recent release of highly anticipated fourth LP Port of Morrow.
Next came “Mine’s Not A High Horse,” off 2003’s critically acclaimed sophomore effort Chutes Too Narrow, followed by “Simple Song,” the gorgeous first single off the new record, the first in five years, following Wincing the Night Away (2007).
Port of Morrow has been well received by critics. Pitchfork, who gave it an 8.4/10, called the LP “a triumphant return” and “the perfect distillation of the Shins’ back catalog—the jangly, wistful airs of Oh, Inverted World, Chutes Too Narrow‘s genre-resistant playfulness, Wincing the Night Away‘s expansively detailed production. But in other ways, its colorful, detail-oriented approach sets it apart from anything Mercer’s done before.”
The band knew their strengths, playing a range of crowd-pleasers, including “So Says I” and “Sleeping Lessons,” with the wide-eyed audience singing along passionately, lingering to Mercer’s every word and savoring every line. They shouted restlessly for an encore, and when the singer returned, he was alone, guitar in hand, ready to perform “September” (off Port of Morrow). In unison, the crowd spontaneously began to chant the background “oohs” as Mercer sang: “Under our softly burning lamp/ She takes her time/ Telling stories of our possible lives/ And love is the ink in the well when her body writes.”
The lights brightened as the full band returned on stage for the popular “Kissing the Lipless.” And soon, the show would end the way it began—a return to an oldie from the first LP, the last song of the night, “One By One All Day.”
Caring is Creepy
Mine’s Not A High Horse
Bait and Switch
No Way Down
So Says I
It’s Only Life
40 Mark Strasse
Port of Morrow
Kissing The Lipless
One By One All Day