Tuesday, November 03, 2009

The Bravery delivers in energetic show at House of Blues

This article was first posted on the Orange County Register Web site on Monday, Nov. 2, 2009.

The Bravery preview new songs at vibrant Mouse House show

While the Bravery may continue to sound like a hybrid born out of early Cure and War-era U2, the quintet's strong concert on Sunday night (Nov. 1) at House of Blues Anaheim was certainly no tribute act.

Under the charismatic leadership of singer Sam Endicott, the group's thrilling 70-minute show celebrated the New York band's blend of post-punk, new-wave and alt rock with 18 songs pulled from the past as well as its coming release, Stir the Blood, a self-described angry album due Dec. 1, 2009.

The Bravery had several things going in its favor at the Mouse House: a large and enthusiastic crowd in tune with the outfit's approach plus a set list showcasing the band's songwriting and live skills at their best.

Whether performing its best-known material ("Unconditional," "Believe," "An Honest Mistake," "The Ocean") or new songs ("I Have Seen the Future," "Jack O' Lantern Man"), the Bravery's cohesive sound blended with artful projections of lights and films shown behind and over them. Endicott, lead guitarist Michael Zakarin, bassist Mike Hindert, drummer Anthony Burulcich and keyboardist John Conway didn't use the visuals so they could scale back their own musical attack, but rather to enhance the show.

Among the strong new sneak peeks in the mix were "Slow Poison," bolstered by both a driving dance beat and a layered guitar sound (Zakarin used a violin bow to play his electric guitar, evoking Sigur Ros), and "Red Hands and White Knuckles," which Endicott described as his love song to New York City.

The Bravery has a potent one-two attack with a lineup that features both a commanding lead singer and a skillful lead guitarist. Endicott used his outgoing personality and striking vocals to lead the proceedings with Zakarin fitting in comfortably nearby, before suddenly unleashing memorable fretwork that provided extra zing throughout the set.

A true bonus for those who caught the Bravery on Sunday night was the inclusion of two strong opening acts. Although the Dustys and Living Things each performed for only about 30 minutes, both acts made the most of their brief turns. The former, from Arlington, Va., recall England's Doves, offering up alluring indie-rock; the latter, out of St. Louis, creates retro rock that's an unlikely sonic cross between the Ramones and '70s Rolling Stones, punched up by raw, in-your-face lyrics.

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