“Lock the doors, we are going all night long” orders John Flansburgh to security from the get go. And with over 30 years of friendship and playing together with John Linnell since high school you get the sense they can and will just keep on playing. The setlist starts at over 30 songs before even considering any additional material and anecdotes which litter the proceedings like old flames you stumble upon on Facebook - but in a good way.
The band is delighted that so many people have turned out and that fans know every song old, new and covered. This is magnified by the expertly set up venue on demand from the band to have the crowd as close to them as possible - which makes photographing them more intimate than is normally the case. Flansburgh acknowledges this and embraces all the other people working with kind words and a broad smile.
They kick off with ‘The Statue Got Me High’ with Linnell rocking the accordion and Flansburgh prowling by his side barely able to contain himself. There is an energy which is so often neglected by younger musicians these days - it is not about running and jumping about, which Flansburgh attempts with the poise and athleticism you can only admire in a man in his mid 50s - this is about the songs and the almost feral need to play and play hard. Linnell moves to the keyboard for ‘Can’t Keep Johnny Down’ and from there things become a joyful celebratory blur with equal comfort and ease they race through singles, album tracks, a quite intoxicating cover of Beyonce’s ‘Bills, Bills, Bills’ and stories to accompany and entertain.
‘Don’t Let’s Start’ provides an early highlight, ‘Meet James Ensor’ sparkles mid-set and the utterly timeless ‘Birdhouse In Your Soul’ as ever provides the perfect final flourish to this - and any show you’re likely to see! Flansburgh and Linnell are forever simmering with engaging banter and a surprised glint in their eyes that they can’t believe they are still doing this - like there is an in-joke they shared in high school and are still waiting for the punchline.
The charm and wit laden lyrics, perfected harmonies and solid backing band create a synergy that is being hailed as their greatest line up and tour to date. And after 30 years that is quite some feat. This is already going to be one of the musical highlights of 2016 and it was a genuine pleasure to have been part of it.