The Last Shadow Puppets Gave Everything We’ve Come To Expect at The Observatory, San Diego [REVIEW+PHOTOS] REVIEW+PHOTOS: The Last Shadow Puppets @ The Observatory North Park 8/5/16
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Friday night at The Observatory in North Park, San Diego, The Last Shadow Puppets performed their second to last US date before heading off to Europe. While San Diego isn’t the most fertile ground for music fandom that doesn’t involve straw fedoras and sandals, fans came out in full force to see the wild bromantic British duo. Some die-hards drove all the way from LA and beyond and lined up around the block in hopes that they might get up front for a bit of sweat from frontmen Alex Turner and Miles Kane.
The band took to the stage right on time. First, the 4-piece string emerged and the rest followed. The temperature of the venue rose immediately as Turner and Kane strapped on their guitars and moved into “Dracula Teeth” from their sophomore album, “Everything You’ve Come To Expect”, then into what would be considered a popular Puppet “oldie”, “The Age Of The Understatement”.
While Turner and Kane were backed by an excellent full band (featuring Mini Mansions’ Zach Dawes), they were still the main focus of the stage as they played off one another, sometimes seizing into a guitar stance or perching seductively on the monitors. Considering The Last Shadow Puppets only have two albums, every song seemed like a gem and each time one began, the cellphones would go up – fans dutifully recording snippets hoping to capture a Turner leg kick or maniacal scream from Kane.
Without saying much between songs, they pushed through sharp sexy screamers like “Bad Habits” then seamlessly into swanky, cinematic numbers like “My Mistakes Were Made For You”. Turner and Kane occasionally swapped microphones and duties as the featured vocalist, but at any given moment, either one was doing something that embodied their inherent swagger. It was in those moments- when they came together at the microphone or held hands- when the room erupted in maniacal cheers with a sea of arms raised into the air for the electric duo made by a monkey and a rascal.
They performed a biting cover of “Totally Wired” by The Fall. During the performance, Miles crouched low and screeched like he was possessed, and judging by some of the arm flailing and general unhingedness, one could have thought there was some kind of rock demon possessing The Last Shadow Puppets. Someone popped out from backstage carrying a giant wrestling belt and draped it over Kane’s shoulder, which he then held it up into the air in a victory pose. It didn’t make complete sense in the context of a concert, but the audience cheered him on like he was a champion anyway. Turner fell to the floor at the end of “Sweet Dreams, TN” and female fans at the front swooned while pretending the song wasn’t blatantly about his current girlfriend. Turner spoke in his deepened Yorkshire-meets-cowboy-drawl, “Thank you for having us San Diego. We are America’s most smooth-talking, dirt-bikers. This one is called ‘In My Room’ Baby’” and they closed the main set.
There were a few fans scattered at the back who seemed only interested in older tracks, but as the night pressed on, it was clear that the new material was winning them over again. They returned for a 3-song encore of “Dream Synopsis”, “Standing Next To You”, and “Meeting Place”. Swathed in red and green spotlights, they ended their attitude-driven set with the very appropriate lyric “I’m sorry I’ve left you.”
The Last Shadow Puppets left the stage, but their ardent fans lingered for that last second before the lights came up hoping they might come back yet again but eventually herded out of the venue having been satiated by everything they’d come to expect.
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Michelle Shiers is a Los Angeles concert photographer and occasional writer. She has a soft spot for the very fertile English music scene and a true passion for capturing musicians in their element. She also acts as a fly-on-the-wall doing recording studio photography and some artist portraits. Her work has been published all over the web and in select printed publications including Drum!, Headliner, Bass Player, and more. The portfolio of her labor of love can be seen at MichelleShiersPhotography.com