Even years after their debut album, the New Pornographers are still one of the most exciting bands around. If you were, however, at this gig you could easily be forgiven for not believing this statement. For the first half of their set the sound quality was so abysmal you would have been better off standing in the shower while your neighbour played highlights of their albums to you through the walls.

Veering from fist-pumping guitar-pop to harmonised slow songs that would likely impress the Beach Boys, the New Pornographers have impressive range. You could almost tell this tonight only because the quiet songs were actually audible. Any moment where the bass and drums were in use though descended into an unidentifiable morass of sound.

In terms of sound quality things did improve slightly about half way through. By that time though the anthemic indie-rock of ‘Use It’ and a host of other songs had been lost in a swamp of noise. And improvement is always relative to where you start from. While those who haven’t seen them before might have come away feeling they had seen a reasonable show, people who had seen them before knew that a great show had been ruined.

This is a major pity. Even without their glorious vocalist Neko Case the band were on good form, with her stand in doing an admirable, if thankless, job. The tracks from their new album 'Challengers' are solid, even if there is nothing on it to match ‘The Bleeding Heart Show’. At least by the time they played that you could almost hear it properly.

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Commenting On: KOKO, London, 4/10/2007 - New Pornographers

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