Saturday, April 29, 2023

In Concert: The New Pornographers

The New Pornographers

The Truman, Kansas City, 4/29/2023

Photo by Hillery Terenzi at Atlanta’s Variety Playhouse on 4/20/2023 from

Opening Act:

Wild Pink


  • Neko Case (vocals)
  • Kathryn Calder (keyboards, vocals)
  • John Collins (bass, guitar, keyboards)
  • Zach Djanikian (saxophone, programming)
  • Todd Fancey (guitar)
  • A.C. Newman (vocals, guitar)
  • Joe Seiders (drums, vocals)


Usually when I plop down the money for a concert, it’s on a trusted commodity – an act whose catalog I know backwards and forwards, who I’ve been a fan of for years. Once in awhile, especially with the influence of my friend Paul, I’ll plop down for someone like the New Pornographers where I only know a song or two, but have a good feeling about them as a band.

Given the fly-under-the-radar nature of their less commercial product, I anticipated an eclectic show. I was surprised that – while a worthy show – the New Pornographers turned in a pretty conventional performance. This is a band with an extensive catalog (nine albums since their formation in 1997) but barely a whiff of commercial radio success. The latter may or may not be intentional; the band seem to consciously avoid rousing choruses reflected by repetition of song titles. In fact, I couldn’t tell you the titles of most of the songs as the show progressed. Based on setlists from this tour (check out, they aren’t shaking things up much from night to night. They knocked out 22 songs in under two hours, which also tells you they aren’t peppering their songs with extended solos. In fact, there was really only one notable solo – from Zach Djanikian, a touring member but not officially a part of the band. It probably got the most rousing response of the night.

There was also little audience interaction. The members rarely made eye contact with people in the audience, instead singing with closed eyes or staring into the distance. A.C. Newman joked with the audience when introducing “Testament to Youth in Reverse” about it being a sing-a-long that you couldn’t screw up (because one only need sing “no” over and over) but patter between songs was otherwise practically non-existent. One might think this all created some distance between the band and the audience, but the crowd was responsive enough to suggest more dedicated fans than casual ones such as Paul and myself. In addition, the venue accommodated 1200 people in a standing-only space that challenged the middle-aged such as myself to stand for 2+ hours, but enhanced the “we’re here to party” vibe.

Overall, this was a more traditional show than I anticipated, but I was won over by the frequent twin female vocal attack of Neko Case and Kathryn Calder. Even on those songs where A.C. Newman took the lead, it was the vocal backing by Neko and Kathryn that made the song. This is definitely a band I’ll explore more.

Click here to see other concerts I’ve attended.

The Set List:

1. Marie and the Undersea 9
2. Use It 2
3. Brill Bruisers 6
4. Falling Down the Stairs of Your Smile 8
5. Really Really Light 9
6. The Slow Descent into Alcoholism 1
7. Cat and Mouse with the Light 9
8. All the Old Showstoppers 4
9. Angelcover 9
10. Testament to Youth in Verse 2
11. This is the World of the Theater 7
12. Last and Beautiful 9
13. Champions of Red Wine 6
14. The Laws Have Changed 2
15. Pontius Pilate’s Home Movies 9
16. The Jessica Numbers 3
17. Whiteout Conditions 7
18. Mass Romantic 1


19. Challengers 4
20. Continue as a Guest 9
21. Sweet Talk, Sweet Talk 5
22. The Bleeding Heart Show 3

Check out the setlist on Spotify.


1 Mass Romantic (2000)
2 Electric Version (2003)
3 Twin Cinema (2005)
4 Challengers (2007)
5 Together (2010)
6 Brill Bruisers (2014)
7 Whiteout Conditions (2017)
8 In the Morse Code of Brake Lights (2019)
9 Continue As a Guest (2023)

Resources and Related Links:

First posted 4/29/2023.

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