Talk about giving the fans their money’s worth. They Might Be Giants – sans supporting cast – performed not one but two epic sets at the Queen’s Hall on Friday night as they charged through their extensive, glorious back catalogue. And still they found time to throw in a couple more during the encore – much to the crowd’s delight.
Some 35-years into their career, the Brooklyn-based nerd-pop duo have somehow only ever made it to Edinburgh once – at the same venue, in 2013 – meaning many of those in attendance were seeing them live for the very first time. Judging by all the smiling faces at the end, it must have been well worth the wait – even if TMBG did play so long that trains and buses were missed.
After taking to the stage to a heroes’ welcome, Massachusetts-raised mates John Flansburgh and John Linnell – who beefed up their established live band of Dan Miller, Danny Weinkauf and Marty Beller with trumpet legend Curt Ramm (of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band and Nile Rodgers’ Chic) – opened with The Communists Have The Music from recent EP My Murdered Remains and followed up with a barrage of old favourites, newbies and rarities spanning their impressive career.
With 20 studio albums to their name, TMBG have no small amount of material to choose from – and no small amount of loyal, long-term fans, as the atmosphere inside the Queen’s Hall attests.
The likes of Particle Man and Birdhouse In Your Soul were thrown into the mixer early doors, and other highlights (though you could pick out practically anything from the 30-odd-song setlist and hail it as that) included Dr Worm (check out the footage below), Istanbul (Not Constantinople), The Guitar (The Lion Sleeps Tonight), Whistling In The Dark, and Particle Man, which cleverly segued into Sia’s Chandelier.
Impressively, TMBG kept up their playful energy for the whole evening, and not only were they fun to watch but they had great between-song banter. As Linnell said near the start: “We are going to play two sets tonight. The first one with all the songs you like; the second with all the songs you hate. Then we’ll lock the doors and do a third set of jazz versions of all the songs in the second set…”
They never did get around to that third set lock-in – and more’s the pity. A night in the company of TMBG is one you never want to end.