Early Saturday evening, on an empty stomach, we watched our favorite glammy Norwegian neo-wave quartet New Violators play a streamlined set of their excellent Echo & the Stardust anthems. Streamlined because hired-gun guitarist Stian Westerhus left the past Puppet Show players and Band To Watch to focus on his pummeling, thorny metallic noise duo Monolithic.
We do sorta miss the dynamic of watching a heavy riffer adapting to Roxy Music, but the new setup’s intriguing: Vocalist Per Borten — who clocked time as a guitarist in his past band Cadillac and still plays lead guitar in his current Black Crowes-y roots-rocking crew Moving Oos — handles the strings. This obviously limits the number of times he can hold both hands over his head and spin dramatically, but tightening the group also makes them seem a more coherent whole. Still, we kinda miss guitar-free Per. The other big change? The ever fashionable and charismatic Borten’s shifted from his patented super-tight version of an Andrew W.K. all-white to a looser fitting all-black. At least he still sports the pompadour and boxy glasses.
The Violators played great versions of great favorites like “Angelina,” “Burma,” “Tonight Becomes Tomorrow,” “Messiah,” and the new-to-our-ears “Parasite” (“this is a song about me,” Borten deadpanned). They closed it all excellently with a track about dancing with a stranger (title anyone? … maybe: “Dancing With A Stranger”), ostensibly their “last song on this trip to the United States,” but the real last song came a few hours later at a karaoke bar where Borten and keyboard wizard Haakon-Marius Pettersen put less tuneful revelers to shame with their smooth “More Than This” sing-a-long. Right, watch out Bill Murray and Division Day, etc.
More pics — including karaoke! — after the jump.