Kevin Norris

Elvis Perkins in Dearland @ The Troubadour – 10/3/09

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Elvis Perkins, the singer/songwriter that sounds like a mixture between Neil Young and Leonard Cohen, has had an extremely productive 2009. From touring as an opening act for the folk-heavyweights Bon Iver during the summer and playing a recent stint of shows in Europe, to releasing an excellent new LP and EP with his freshly acquired backing band “Dearland,” it only seems appropriate that Perkins finished out the year with his own headlining tour to showcase everything he has been through not only this year but his entire life.

As the son of parents that both died prematurely (famous actor Father Anthony Perkins who died from AIDS and photographer Mother Berry Berenson who perished in the 9/11 attacks), Perkins has been through a lot. Shaped by the tragedy he has endured in his life, his music and performances transcend a colorful array of emotions.

Perkins three-piece backing band uncharacteristically opened up the night at the packed Troubadour in Hollywood on Saturday night. Acting as the leaders of a musical assembly line, the multi-instrumentalist’s Wyndham Boylan-Garnett (organ, trombone, harmonium, guitar), Brigham Brough (bass, saxophone) and Nick Kinsey (drums, clarinet) paraded their way through the crowd playing their horns and bass drum until they met the solo standing Perkins onstage.

Themed with the same New Orleans bounce that is featured on 2009’s “Elvis Perkins in Dearland,” the band opened up the set with the brassy elegance of both “Chains, Chains, Chains” and “I Heard Your Voice in Dresden.” Most of the night was saved for songs from the aforementioned album (“Hey,” “Shampoo,” and “Send My Fond Regards to Lonelyville”); however, various songs from 2007’s “Ash Wednesday” and the upcoming “The Doomsday EP” (“Stay Zombie Stay” and “Stop Drop Rock and Roll”) also appeared.

During the much-anticipated encore, Perkins stood alone on the stage underneath the venues drab lighting, strumming his acoustic guitar to “May Day!” as the words “well I don’t care/ your cameras caught me crying as I left your gates” trembled from his lips. While “May Day!” was extremely poignant and easily the night’s most intimate moment, it was with the jubilantly optimistic song “Doomsday” that the members of Dearland and opening act Matthew Vasquez of Delta Spirit brought down the house as they retreated back down to the crowd that was dancing, clapping, and yelling joyfully to the closing song about the end of the world.

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