|Modest Mouse singer Isaac Brock's quirky vocals were often lost in the dance-groove sound mix. (Robert E. Klein for the Boston Globe)|
At times, Modest Mouse is too much
It's always curious when a band that delivers sharp albums leaves your senses dulled in concert.
Friday night at the Orpheum Theatre, ascending modern-rock royalty Modest Mouse played a 90- minute set that felt about 30 minutes too long.
The main culprits were the dense sound mix that often subsumed lead singer Isaac Brock's quirky yelp-and-bark vocals and the tightly coiled grooves.
Or more precisely, that the sextet, plus an additional, often- superfluous drummer, seemingly operated only in two rhythmic settings. There was the swinging mode that worked the hips on tunes like the mellifluous "Doin' the Cockroach." Alternatively there was the pounding four on the floor strut -- perfect for head bobbing -- of songs like breakthrough hit "Float On" and the swelling "Tiny Cities Made of Ashes" and pretty much everything else. For the first 45 minutes, this had the intended dance-party inciting effect , but the repetition grew tedious.
Not helping matters were jagged shards of (unintentional) feedback that jumped out in nearly every other song.
The unison disco thump and muffled vocals were mitigated partially by the complementary guitar interplay of Brock and the newest Mouse, former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr .
As on the band's splendid new album , "We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank," Marr stepped into his role seamlessly. He was equally adept supplying driving riffs as gorgeous, lyrical solos that were a melodious counterpoint to the relentless stomp.
The band clearly benefits from his presence, and for his part Marr looked delighted to have found a proper musical home again. He embraced it both figuratively, with his fretwork, and literally , grabbing Brock in a fraternal hug near the show's end.
On the other end of the dynamic scale was the bizarre collective Man Man, whose members may have sported matching outfits but were anything but uniform in their grab- bag approach. Half of those in the audience seemed to be scratching their heads, while the other half offered a standing ovation.