"It's nice to be playing shows again," Spoon singer Britt Daniel enthusiastically told the large crowd at Santa Ana, California's The Observatory on Monday night. It was one of the first shows of the band's extensive tour in support of ninth album Hot Thoughts, the follow-up to 2014's They Want My Soul, and the bandmembers were visibly thrilled to be performing once again.
Fans were treated to several new songs, including "Do I Have to Talk You Into It," "Can I Sit Next to You" and the Hot Thoughts title track, but the set list mainly focused on classics from the band's 20-plus-year career. "We have a record coming out on March 17," Daniel said. "Meanwhile, this is an older song." He then segued to Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga track "Black Like Me." It was during this song and two others from that 2007 album -- "Don't You Evah" and "The Underdog" -- that audience members could be heard singing loudly, almost drowning out Daniel's voice.
The show's minimalist stage was accented only by smoke and mood lighting, which worked to great effect on such songs as "My Mathematical Mind," during which the lights flickered over a darkened stage as the bandmembers intently played their instruments. For "I Ain't the One," a Hot Thoughts song that premiered last year on Showtime's Shameless, the whispery beginning was given even more dramatic effect as Daniel stood bathed in a single spotlight.
During the concert, the singer took the time to introduce each person onstage, including newest member Gerardo Larios, who switched between keyboards and guitar. "This is his third show [with us]!" Daniel announced. When introducing bassist Robert Pope, he playfully commented, "Sometimes I sing some of his lyrics. It's more fun." Clearly enjoying themselves, the musicians often became immersed in extensive jam sessions, such as during the performance of Gimme Fiction's "I Turn My Camera On," when the album version's 20-second instrumental beginning became an engaging jam session of nearly two minutes.
Throughout the night, Daniel was all movement, from crouching on the stage floor to leaning over the edge of the stage to sing more directly to the audience, who responded with evident enthusiasm, completely enraptured with the performance. As the set list traversed the band's entire catalog, going as far back as 2002's Kill the Moonlight, one could marvel at the impressive consistency of Spoon's music, from the artful lyrics to the intricate song compositions.
The night ended with They Want My Soul's "Rainy Taxi," after which Daniel declared, "We gotta go!" This was met with audible cries of "Noooo" and futile requests for more songs. As the band exited the stage, a fan was heard simply concluding, "Goddamn, I love Spoon," a sentiment widely agreed upon among the satisfied (and sweaty) audience.
Do I Have to Talk You Into It
I Turn My Camera On
The Beast and Dragon, Adored
I Saw the Light
Don't You Evah
Black Like Me
My Mathematical Mind
Can I Sit Next to You
Rent I Pay
I Ain't the One