Destroyer
Heaven, London
June 28, 2011

How strange to be more than fifteen years into a career and to finally achieve growing, and now glowing, recognition for the music you make. With bands today, the inverse applies, they learn to walk before they can crawl, record a debut they’ll never repeat and disappear as if they never existed. Real artists will maintain and nurture their craft regardless of an audience, which more or less, is the story of Dan Bejar. Better known as the wild-card songwriter in Canadian power-pop supergroup The New Pornographers, Bejar’s work as Destroyer is like mainlining into Bejar’s psyche, which prior to you only got the briefest taste of.

With his ninth album Kaputt, Bejar has set up camp in the 80’s, drawing on his own favourite albums and artists as reference to produce one of the most effortlessly charming records you’ll hear all year.  Noticeably reticent when it comes to touring, it’s been a long time coming for Destroyer to take his “European Blues” to European shores, but with an accompanying 7 piece band and touring what is undoubtedly the album of his career to date, all thoughts of ‘what took you so long?’ are renounced. Opening with Kaputt’s “Chinatown” and “Blue Eyes”, the transformation from record to stage is flawless. Each nuance is perfectly recreated as Bejar eases into his role as poet/performer, imbuing his lyrics with such a creative use of language that it’s a delight just to listen to him speak.

With such a wealth of material to draw from, Bejar sticks largely within the lounge-jazz realm of Kaputt, with random selections from his back catalogue, with “My Favourite Year” from Trouble In Dreams and Rubies with “Painter In Your Pocket” and “3000 Flowers”, the latter with assistance of a lyric sheet to help Bejar along. It’s rare to be at a concert where the sax player almost steals the show, as did saxophonist JP Carter during “Suicide Demo For Kara Walker”, who really knew how to work the old ‘saxophone as weightlifting’ trick, leaning down and hoisting it triumphantly in the air at the climax of his solo to rapt applause. For encore, the scene stealing “Bay Of Pigs”, in given its full 12 minute outing, which on record sounds like Bejar ad-libbing over an The Orb-like trance track which then morphs steadily into a disco reprise to Kaputt and ultimately the perfect closure to the evening.

Setlist: Chinatown, Blue Eyes, My Favourite Year, Downtown, Savage Night At The Opera, Kaputt, It’s Gonna Take An Airplane, Painter In Your Pocket, 3000 Flowers, Suicide Demo For Kara Walker, Song For America // Bay Of Pigs