Anyone familiar with the pathos of Elvis Perkins’ songs was in for a real treat at his sold out show at Brooklyn’s Bell House last Saturday night. Not only was he in pique form, but he was also supported by his band of multi-instrumentalists. With his band, In Dearland, Elvis adds a horn section and, most importantly, tempo. It’s as if the ever melancholy Elvis has shaken off some of his sadness and introspection and decided to rock out his songs.
As a result the concert was buoyantly upbeat. Singing his heart out, he seemed to embody the optimism that shines through his often gloomy lyrics. Even his signature song “While you were Sleeping” was played as a rocking song, without compromising the feeling.
The concert started with him alone, however, on stage with acoustic guitar while the horn section did a New Orleans-style procession through the crowd. From there, the band easily transitioned through many sounds: from Southern gospel choir to rockabilly band, with organ jams reminiscent of Ray Manzarek, to harmonica jams that invited comparisons with Dylan.
With two albums and an EP worth of material, Perkins can dig a little deeper into his songbook. He didn’t disappoint, playing highlights from each record, including hard-driving guitar versions of “Shampoo”, “Stay Zombie Stay”, and “Doomsday”.
Elvis Perkins has a little bit of many influences, from dirge to country twang. No matter how he plays it, he sings with a beautiful voice, slaying an emotional song.