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Monday, 16 December 2013 14:36

Concert review: Phoenix (with Bastille) wows full Pageant house, Friday, December 13

Concert review: Phoenix (with Bastille) wows full Pageant house, Friday, December 13
Written by Matt Fernandes
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On a cold and wet Friday evening, St. Louis Phoenix fans queued up outside of the Pageant hours before the 8 p.m. start time in hopes of camping out near the stage.

Their endurance was rewarded with a spectacular night of music. For fans of Phoenix, it doesn't get much better than Friday night.

Entering the stage to industrial noise and red uplights shining behind them, the quartet lined up next to each other at the front of the stage. To start the show, they launched into "Entertainment," the lead single from their 2013 album, "Bankrupt!" It's a fun song on record, but made a huge impact live, especially for a local crowd that hadn't seen the band since their 2010 Pageant appearance.

The band followed with "Lasso" after a large drum intro and an "un, deux, trois, quatre" from lead singer Thomas Mars. Mars is clearly feeling better after having to cancel some dates recently. He was all over the place, using every inch of the stage to hop around, interact with the crowd and pump up his bandmates.

Next up was a slightly extended version of "Lisztomania," one of the great pop songs of the last decade.

Phoenix continued with upbeat hits mainly from their last two albums: "Girlfriend," "S.O.S. in Bel Air," "Chloroform," "Trying To Be Cool" and many more, all containing outstanding solos and earth-shaking electro beats.

Phoenix draws from a lot of influences, first and foremost the euro disco tradition they grew up on -- a genre that never went through a "disco sucks" period in France. Most of their songs feature propulsive beats and electronic hooks, but still with strong guitar presence, lending to a unique sound.

The band wrapped up the set with "1901," the other monster hit from the 2009 record "Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix." Those who stayed for the encore, which appeared to be everyone, were treated to Mars entering the pit and singing a hushed version of "Countdown" with a lone guitarist. Then Mars blew some minds as the full band came back out for "Rome." Mars confidently fell into the waiting arms of the crowd and was carried all the way to the back of the pit, singing the whole time. He stood and delivered a few verses near the bar then fell back onto the zombie hands and surfed back to the stage with relative ease. It was very cool. the band capped the night off as they started it -- with a few bars of "Entertainment."

The light show and video backdrop kept the crowd stimulated, with stylish light patterns and colors. Video occasionally was beamed onto a huge screen behind the musicians, including a breathtaking shot of a snow-capped mountain, a short of Lou Reed savoring a bottle of Coca Cola and a trip through the heart of Paris on a bike over some Pink Floydian noise.

Openers Bastille, from London, turned in an inspired set of high energy synthpop that was extremely well received. I've seen many worthy openers get ignored by St. Louis crowds but not this time. The packed floor was buzzing throughout their set and erupted after each song.

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