Over the past two days I had the pleasure of seeing The Last Shadow Puppets on both Thursday night August 4 at The Observatory in Santa Ana, and Friday night August 5 at The Observatory in North Park, San Diego.Seeing as it had been about 8 years since their first record and the touring surrounding it, since Alex Turner has his little Arctic Monkeys gig and Miles Kane has his own solo projects, I could not pass up any and all opportunities to see them for this record.
Cameron Avery opened both nights and it is no doubt that TLSP choose the classiest, most elegant openers. Avery was accompanied by a piano as he softly strummed his guitar with a Michael Bublé/Frank Sinatra-esque sound that even the men in the crowd couldn’t help falling for. Having him open created the refined atmosphere that the Shadow Puppets rightly should have as their sound is no doubt rock and roll, but with a sophisticated touch.
Alex Turner and Miles Kane are hands down two of the best performers and musicians I have ever seen live. At the Santa Ana show, the duo opened with a personal favorite, Used To Be My Girl, played a killer set taking from both of their albums, as well as an insane cover of “Totally Wired” by The Fall (more on that here), until finally ending with a cover of David Bowie’s “Moonage Daydream” with surprise guest, Dave Catching, a touring member of Eagles of Death Metal. The crowd was energetic throughout the set, getting particularly crazy during “Aviation” and even more so during “Bad Habits,” both of which are singles from their latest album Everything You’ve Come to Expect. Surprisingly, they did not play the title track from EYCTE. Another personal favorite of mine, “The Bourne Identity” was played, presumably in the place of “Everything You’ve Come to Expect” (which is performed sans guitar) as it served as the token “slow,” acoustic song of both shows (no complaints here). The Santa Ana show was overall quite robust, with the duo evidently feeding off the crowd’s energy.
Friday night’s show was also an absolutely killer performance, as expected. However, the biggest, most disappointing difference between the two was that the crowd in San Diego was extremely static. Most people in the crowd seemed to stand in one spot, barely ever even swaying, and they did not get nearly as rowdy as the previous day, aside from the guy behind me with his desperate attempts to get Miles’s attention and his chants for them to play “505.” I surely expected at least some kind of movement during “Bad Habits,” as I have found that that song seems to garner up the most energy, but even then there was little to no movement. Luckily, this lack of vigor did not have an effect on the band besides inquiries by Alex Turner of “are you still with us, San Diego?” (to my surprise, they were). Despite this crowd of utter squares, the show was as enjoyable as ever with Turner and Kane seamlessly working the stage together and sounding absolutely impeccable.
The Last Shadow Puppets definitely did not disappoint on either night as they breezed through their 18/19 song setlist. Backed by a solid band and lovely string quartet, Turner and Kane gave two brilliant performances that will stand to be some of my favorite shows of the year, more likely longer. Hopefully they will come around sooner than 8 years, but if that’s how long it takes for the next bit of TLSP, I’ll wait patiently, still clinging to the memories of these shows.