A lot has changed in the decade-plus since elusive French indie pop band Phoenix last played in Minnesota. Children have grown, many trends have come and gone, and multiple presidencies have passed. The world is, for better or worse, a different place.
But, as the saying goes, the more some things change, the more they stay the same. In the case of Phoenix’s Tuesday night show at the Palace, this adage proved true, with the band delivering a spectacular concert to an audience of long-starved Twin Cities fans.
The concert opened with a set by indie veterans Porches, who played in a trio format. While some of Porches’ albums are softer, their vibe was pure rock and roll. Because their guitar-driven sound was heavier than expected, the band turned a lot of heads. More than that, they held their own on the large stage with an opening set that was thrilling and complemented what was to come.
Phoenix took the stage following Porches’ strong opening set. The show was the first stop on their current tour, but the band ran like a well-oiled machine from the get-go.
In a way, it felt appropriate to open the show with Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix smash “Lisztomania.” Though conventional wisdom would suggest leaving the biggest hits for the back half of the set, opening with a hit sent the audience in a frenzy that they wouldn’t leave all show.
The early part of the set would include more hits, including former lead singles “Long Distance Call” (from It’s never been like that) and “Entertainment” (from Bankrupt) as well as a brand-new single, “Tonight,” which fit in well alongside the mainstays.
The momentum would build throughout the set, sometimes evolving but rarely subsiding. This led to several highly climactic moments, culminating in the main set closing “Rome,” which was rapturous. The visual production, which was as strong as I’ve seen at the venue, was stunning.
The catchy indie pop songs and visuals combined for a memorable experience. That the band seemed genuinely jazzed to be playing the Twin Cities after such a long break was an added bonus. Singer Thomas Mars made several comments and gestures that indicated as much, including singing Prince’s “Starfish and Coffee” during the encore.
The show simply felt special, a chance for longtime fans to connect with a band they hadn’t seen in a long time, with the band reciprocating by giving it everything they had. The wait may have been long, but the payoff was as greater than even the biggest fan could have expected.