Murder by Death came to Boston Friday, co-headlining a Winter tour with Man Man, one stop before finishing the season in Philly, the birthplace of Man Man.
Samantha Crain gave a solid opening. She recently released Kid Face to great reviews and has taken it to the road. Her alto voice carries all the pathos of Johnny Cash, the perfect fit for her songs, whose lyrics are poetic in a plain-spoken, down-to-Earth style.
Man Man’s alternative rock sound drew in a large crowd. Fans arrived with painted faces and a load of energy ready to be unleashed. Man Man has a sound at once original (brinking on the bizarre) and catchy. They rivaled the movement of their enthusiastic fans, stomping around the stage and encouraging the cheers.
“Feather” set the mood with an almost carnival sounding piano. No two of their songs sound very much alike, but most are a mad, energetic array of different sounds that work together to form a definite melody, most obviously seen in “Mister Jung Stuffed,” “Spider Cider,” and “Haute Tropique.”
They played “Piranhas Club,” a 1950’s rock n roll-sounding tune, “The Fog or China,” a psychedelic song with electronic elements, and “Van Helsing Boombox,” a smoother, softer piece. They played the very original pieces “Black Mission Goggles” and “Engrish Bwudd” and finished strong with “Sarsparillsa.”
Murder by Death took the stage with “I Came Around,” a passionate rock song from their album Bitter Drink, Bitter Moon. They followed it with “My Ball and Chain,” a tune reminiscent of 1930’s era country folk, if with an added electric sound.
“A Masters in Reverse Psychology,” a darker, almost gothic tune, took things down a bit. “The Curse of Elkhart,” “Rumbrave,”, and “You Don’t Miss Twice (When You’re Shaving With a Knife)’s” fast tunes brought things back up. “Steal Away” was a blast with Adam Turla’s Johnny Cash-esque voice and varying pace, which they followed up with the traveling song “King of the Gutter, Prince of the Dogs.”
The crowd roared as Samantha Crain joined them onstage for “Lost River” and “Hard World.” Adam Turla took a solo in “My Baby Shot Me Down,” and the act finished with “Comin Home.”
The crowd chanted, “Encore!” ‘till they took the stage again, this time to play “Straight at the Sun” and ‘The Desert Is on Fire’ before saying goodnight. They had a strong stage presence with a straightforward performance—a band without gimmick, a band that doesn’t need a gimmick.