Last Night: Camera Obscura at The Loft

Categories: Show Reviews

Camera Obscura, Anni Rossi
The Loft
June 16, 2009

Better Than: Staying at home and building your own camera obscura.

cameraobscura.jpg

Radio has long lost its hold on the music-seeking masses, having essentially been replaced by music blogs, the seeming medium of choice for fans looking for bands that are new and different than what they are foreced to hear on the radio.

That point seemed to be driven home as Camera Obscura, a mostly little-known band from Scotland treated a packed house at The Loft.

As the band took the stage to a roar of applause and dove into its first song, it was evident that the voice of Tracyanne Campbell sounds just as good live as what you hear on the band's records. But that's easy to do when you're singing into an almost literal wall of sound; the six band members around her held the crowd captive as they moved through songs largely culled from their last two albums, Let's Get Out Of This Country and My Maudlin Career.

As a frontwoman, though, Campbell doesn't possess the qualities you would necessarily want for someone leading a band. She doesn't have over-the-top dance moves that take her across the stage, nor does she seem to have any kind of swagger or confidence.

As she and the band went through from "Tears For Affairs" to "Let's Get Out of This Country," it became evident she seems to have a combination of a (very) quiet confidence and discomfort at being on stage. During her band's songs, she often looked above the crowd, instead of directly at it.

But, she wasn't the only member of the band that acted a little pensive on stage. When keyboardist Carey Lander and guitarist Kenny McKeeve asked the soundman to bring them up or down in the mix it they did so almost apologetically.

Still, as the band played, it was one of those rare nights where you didn't have to listen to everyone around you talk to their friends. The crowd seemed to be filled with fans of the band that actually wanted to listen to their music (go figure). As the band moved through "French Navy," "You Told A Lie" and "James," the crowd swayed to the music and roared their approval at the end of every song. By the middle of "If Looks Could Kill" most of the crowd had broken out into dancing. It seemed only fitting for a song that probably would've gone over well at a sock hop.

As the last song of the set ended and the band exited the stage, the band only had one place to go--the corner of the room. It didn't take long before they were back on stage for their encore. Campbell actually laughed at her band's actions when she return, smiling and saying, "We're back!" before speaking of how silly it was to say that because everyone could see them in the corner.

By the time the band finished its last two encore songs, "Lloyd, I'm Ready To Be Heartbroken" and "Razzle Dazzle Rose," the crowd gave the band yet one more deafening roar of approval.

Campbell returned the gesture in kind with a big smile and clapping her hands above her head in approval of the audience.

Critic's Notebook
By The Way: 
Opener Anni Rossi was pretty good, too. For a woman that plays only a viola and uses the stage as a percussion instrument, her sound was a full one. She seemed to have the approval of the crowd also, as it quietly and politely listened to her.

Personal Bias: As a big fan of Camera Obscura, I was excited to see the band play live after years of listening to its records. It's great to hear a band that can sound as good live as it does on record.

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