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Sunday, June 23, 2013

Close-up with Camera Obscura in San Francisco!

Our first gig in the West Coast had to be a very special one!

Camera Obscura (+ Photo Ops). Regency Ballroom, San Francisco, June 19th 
Tracyanne Campbell and her little bird.
Photo: Bloodbuzzed

Walking around San Francisco the whole day was an exciting, but also pretty demanding (oh, these criminal ups & downs, crazy crazy streets) experience, so it's true we arrived to The Regency Ballroom exhausted, probably not in the best mood to attend a gig.

Support act Photo Ops didn't help changing that feeling. Nothing wrong with Terry Price's songs, which we are sure will get a different and richer dimension with his full band, or with his performance, full of intensity and emotion, but the acoustic singer-songwriter approach let us down. Add the terribly disrespectful attitude of the crowd, who couldn't care less about him, and the result was clear: the first gig of the night was ruined for us.

With a slight delay that made us even worry more, Camera Obscura finally took the stage. By then, the venue was completely packed and we soon realise we didn't need to panic at all, as positive surprises were about to come. First, the annoying, never-ending chat of people disappear completely. Is that a trademark of gigs behaviour in America? Or just in San Francisco? It was terribly unfair with the support act, but amazingly respectful and supportive with the main act. The second, of course, was the venue itself. Great sounding.

Camera Obscura in action
Photo: Bloodbuzzed
With these elements and a band like Camera Obscura on stage, the concert was bound to be a good one. And it was. Despite focusing heavily (half of the setlist) on their new material from "Desire Lines" the show didn't have any downs, and tunes like "Troublemaker", the shiny "New Year's Resolution" or "Break It to You Gently" were among the highlights of the night. Even the country-tingled "Desire Lines", not my favourite number, sounded lush and captivating live.  

More Ms. Campbell live
Photo: Bloodbuzzed
There was time for some classics too, of course, to much delight of the enthusiastic audience. "Lloyd, I'm Ready to Be Heartbroken", "Let's Get Out of This Country", the wonderful rescue of "Teenager" or "Come Back Margaret", chosen to close the gig before the encore after 14 tunes. But even the more upbeat and recognisable numbers weren't enough to change the dreamy, laid-back, intimate mood the night had.

As a matter of fact, even the encore started with an odd one, "James", a choice made as the band's particular homage to the superb actor James Gandolfini, sadly deceased that day. It's somber tone created an unexpected link with final tune "Razzle Dazzle Rose", mournful and epic. Not even the irresistible "French Navy", a cheerful indiepop masterpiece, was capable to ignite the room the way gigs are supposed to do. Not that Camera Obscura was looking to do that.

Close-up with Tracyanne
Photo: Bloodbuzzed
I understand that a night like Wednesday, a casual fan, or someone without much knowledge on the Scottish group could have left the venue a bit disappointed. In that sense I admit that, for example, May's gig at Primavera Sound 2013 could had been more engaging. But all I can say is that the night was a genuine pleasure for devoted fans (like me). Tracyanne Campbell might not be the most crowd-pleasing, energetic frontwoman my eyes have ever seen. But what a singer-performer she is. Camera Obscura tunes are subtle pills of indiepop perfection, performed brilliantly by a band always looking to offer these little moments of (a trumpet, a triangle, a quirky percussion, an unforgettable keyboard chord) uniqueness. But is Campbell's voice who propels them to another level. What a delight to hear her at the very front row with an immaculate sound all show. What a blessing enjoying Camera Obscura's music that close.

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