The Naked and Famous punched in to the Lincoln Theatre on November 15th for one thing. To entertain us with songs from their excellent new album, Simple Forms.
No commentary. Little talking, except briefly at the end. Their focus was music. Pure. Simple. Like the album title. And their energy was palpable.
They gave us a tight 1 hour 20 minutes and a lively 16 songs, amidst a spare stage that pulsated and lit up beautifully in the dim theater. The theater may have been dimly lit, but it sparked with a packed crowd that wouldn’t sit and merged up through the aisles, eagerly exerting themselves towards the stage where Alisa Xayalith (lead vocals and keyboard) and Thom Powers (guitar and vocals) danced and sang.
They started off the evening with two new songs, “The Water Beneath You” and the anthem-like “Higher” that reaches a crescendo made possible only by Alisa’s resonant and crystal voice.
Simple Forms is their third album, and first since 2013. They played eight songs (of 10) from the album, so the audience really got to experience it fully during the set.
“Laid Low”, about heartache and losing all the love (though not tonight), had a buzzy keyboard hook that I like, maybe something off the soundtrack of a 1980’s era sitcom.
There was no dearth of keyboards on the stage (four by my count), and Alisa moved gracefully between one keyboard and the rest of the stage, smiling at the those well-camped in the front row. Thom sang lead vocals on two songs from the comfort of his own keyboard station, where he rotated between playing his guitar.
Thom sang the new “My Energy”, and as much as I enjoyed Alisa singing (she was there with background vocals for this song too), it was a nice counterpoint to hear his falsetto and yearning vocals a couple of times.
The Naked and Famous formed in Auckland, New Zealand, and besides Alisa and Thom, include David Beadle on bass, Aaron Short on keyboard and Jesse Wood on drums.
“Last Forever”, back with Alisa, implored, “Hopelessly abandoning our phones to watch the clouds awake” which seems like a good life strategy.
Of course they played the songs that first put them on the map, from their first album Passive Me, Aggressive You. They gave us “Punching in a Dream” early, where the lights burst into the crowd and pulled back with equal abandon. They ended the main set with “Young Blood” and activated everyone in my line of sight to sing along without inhibition. Consider I was sitting in the second level balcony, overlooking the stage to the right and everyone to the left.
The only lamentable aspect of the entire night, they played but one song in the encore. This time it was the harmonic “No Way” that calmly stays subdued until the epic drop.
If you’ve yet to catch The Naked and Famous live, you are in for a treat the next time they visit DC. If you were at the show at the Lincoln Theatre (or witnessed them elsewhere), you already know what I’m talking about, and probably already bought your copy of Simple Forms!
I leave you with something to get you high. All of the new ‘lyric’ videos for the Simple Forms album are beautifully shot and colorful, like this one:
The Water Beneath You
All Of This
Punching in a Dream
Losing Our Control
Hearts Like Ours
Girls Like You