Yo La Tengo is Love – Review of Yo La Tengo at Paradise Rock Club

Yo La Tengo

Yo La Tengo played a Top 3 show at Paradise last night, amazing.

Yo La Tengo
Paradise Rock Club, Boston, 02/13/13

I’m sure to see many more shows in 2013, however, none will approach the level of excellent Yo La Tengo achieved last night, as they put on an incredible show. I started off my night by Pre-Gaming at In Your Ear Records, and from looking at Twitter, Ira had the same exact idea. I missed him by 1/2 an hour but would meet and talk with him soon at the Merch table.

Ira Kaplan

Ira singing to the crowd.

These are two of the many reasons why this band connects so deeply with me. Part of “Touring 101” is to be at your own merch table before and after shows, but a band of Yo La Tengo’s standing really doesn’t need to do this anymore – but there was Ira, kindly chatting with anyone who approached the table, including my bumbling self. I also don’t think it should be overlooked that Ira was at the record store before the show. This distinctly shows how much of a fan he still is, and that’s what I talked with him at the merch table about, the records we bought.

Yo La Tengo opened up for itself doing an acoustic set to kick off the night. The songs played were beautiful and spanned across their catalog, but I couldn’t help but pang for the grind and feedback of their electric set. It wasn’t until the night was over that I realized how perfect this set up the show though, and made me appreciate them as a band even more. Instruments were swapped, vocals were shared, and the restraint they showed in these acoustic arrangements were masterful. It’s easy to play loud and burly, but to be able to strip down songs as Yo La does is an art into itself. Then they plugged in….

The electric set was hair standing on your forearm good. Ira was in top form flailing the guitar above his head, behind his back, and against amps in a blitz of controlled abandon and feedback. He’s on my Mount Rushmore of guitar players and last night he was loud, raunchy, and just excellent as all hell. The highlight of the night for me was their version of “Pass The Hatchet, I Think I’m Goodkind” which I’ve posted a portion of below (WARNING: my crappy camera phone does it zero justice, but trust me, it was epic). James impressed me most here as he held steady the bassline with the patience and knowledge of a Zen Master, watching him groove to the incessant prodding of his bass was transcendent, and it was easy to get lost with him.

For the last song of the encore they played “The Whole Of The Law” which is a most appropriate Valentines Day tune, and was heart wrenchingly good. This really book-ended the night for me, and again impressed me with how easily they can go from hard to soft. And as the lights were lowered I missed my Valentine quite a bit, with Georgia standing without instrument at center stage, singing the loveliest love song with her Husband. A gorgeous end to a near perfect night. That’s it, that’s the law, that’s the whole of the law.

D. Hixon


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