Mew – Henry Fonda 12-14-09

Ok I admit it, I went to see Mew last night.  This isn’t a band I’m supposed to like; they have some of the same trappings of those cheesy Coldplay-also-rans from across the pond (like Snow Patrol or Keane) – namely melodramatic and bombastic ballads.  And one could argue their lyrics are worse than those bands…being Danish may not help their songwriting.  For a prime example of the maudlin songs these guys are capable of, look no further than “She Came Home For Christmas” from their first album Frengers.  They actually played this song last night and I couldn’t help but chuckle a little.

But this band is different than their UK brethren…to me they are just weird enough to escape from the effete purgatory I’d otherwise place them in.  Most would identify it as their “prog rock” sensibilities which break through the cheez at times like on “Circuitry of the Wolf,” “Apocalypso” or “Repeaterbeater.”  This aspect of Mew is enhanced by the propulsive drumming of Silas Utke Graae Jørgensen, who deserves his placement at the front left of the stage where you can see him rip into his kit and change up the beat several times on every song.

But I’d say equally as important is their pure damn earnestness.  Lead singer Jonas Bjerre’s elven voice and the sheer sparkling beauty of songs like “Beach,” “Special” and “The Zookeeper’s Boy” (the latter two are played back to back both on the album and live to great effect) simply propel Mew past any accusations of cheesiness and melodrama.

And again there is the flat out weirdness, one might even say darkness, that pops up unexpectedly throughout their live show, like this sad, twisted distant cousin of Teddy Ruxpin:

At other parts a spookily realistic animated old lady (or is it a real lady made to look fake?) speaks to us on the big screen and that was right after a group of disheveled orphans sang along with the band to “Sometimes Life Isn’t Easy.”  At another part morphing attack dogs come at the audience.  So in the end, seeing Mew becomes a more roundly entertaining experience beyond just a bunch of pretty and occasionally cheesy songs.


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